Fla. Nursing Home to Pay $17M to Settle DOJ Case

     (CN) – A Florida nursing home operator will pay $17 million to settle claims it violated the False Claims Act by improperly paying doctors for referrals of Medicare patients, the Justice Department announced.
     The agency said the deal with Hebrew Homes Health Network Inc. of Miami, Fla. is the largest ever settlement involving alleged violations of the anti-kickback statute by an operator of skilled nursing facilities.
     The government alleged that between 2006 and 2013, Hebrew Homes and its former president and executive director, William Zubkoff, operated a sophisticated kickback scheme in which they hired numerous physicians ostensibly as medical directors pursuant to contracts that specified numerous job duties and hourly requirements.
     The various facilities had several such medical directors under contract at any given time, paying each several thousand dollars monthly, investigators said.
     But according to the Justice Department, these were actually “ghost” positions, and most of the medical directors were required to perform few, if any, of their contracted job duties.
     Instead, they were allegedly paid for their patient referrals to the Hebrew Homes facilities, which increased exponentially once the medical directors were put on the payroll, the agency said.
     As part of the settlement, Zubkoff agreed to resign as Hebrew Homes’ executive director and to no longer be an employee of the company.
     Hebrew Homes also entered into a five-year corporate integrity agreement with the government, and has agreed to change its policies on hiring and maintaining medical directors.
     The settlement resolves allegations made in a lawsuit filed by Stephen Beaujon, a former CFO of Hebrew Homes, under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to share in any recovery. Beaujon will receive $4.25 million as a result of the settlement.

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