U.S. Intervenes in False Claims Case Against Home Health Agency

Posted: 05/24/2019  browse the blog archive
U.S. Intervenes in False Claims Case Against Home Health Agency

The United States has filed a complaint in intervention against Doctor’s Choice Home Care Inc (Doctor’s Choice), Timothy Beach, and Stuart Christensen alleging False Claims Act violations arising from the alleged payment of kickbacks in the form of sham medical director agreements and payments to the spouses of referring physicians, the Department of Justice announced today. Doctor’s Choice is a home health agency based in Sarasota, Florida. Timothy Beach and Stuart Christensen are partial owners of Doctor’s Choice.

The lawsuit alleges that Doctor’s Choice, with the knowledge of Beach and Christensen, paid kickbacks in the form of sham medical directorships to three physicians to refer patients to Doctor’s Choice. All three physicians allegedly did little, if any, of the work for which Doctor’s Choice paid them as medical directors. Sham medical director agreements to induce patient referrals violate the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Stark Law. Doctor’s Choice also allegedly paid some employees in a manner that accounted for the volume of referrals by their physician spouses, in violation of the Stark Law.    

The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits anyone from offering or paying remuneration in order to induce or reward referrals for services paid for under federal healthcare programs. The Stark Law forbids certain medical providers, including home health agencies, from submitting claims to Medicare for services provided to patients who were referred by a physician with whom the provider has a prohibited financial relationship, unless that relationship falls within an applicable exception. 

The lawsuit was filed under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private parties to file suit on behalf of the United States for false claims and receive a share of any recovery. The act permits the United States to intervene and take over responsibility for litigating the case, as it has done here. A defendant who violates the act is subject to three times the government’s losses, plus applicable penalties. 

The Chanler Group, in association with the Hirst Law Group, represents whistleblowers who take action under the False Claims Act to report fraud committed against the federal and state governments.  We have years of experience representing whistleblower clients who expose every kind of fraud against the government, including health care fraud, contract fraud, and tax fraud.  Read more about our expertise in False Claims Act cases and how you can take action.