Amedisys Home Health Companies Agree to Pay $150 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 30, 2014|
COLUMBIA, SC—Amedisys Inc. and its affiliates (Amedisys) have agreed to pay $150 million to the federal government to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by submitting false home health care billings to the Medicare program, the United States Attorney’s Office announced today. Amedisys, a Louisiana-based for-profit company, is one of the nation’s largest providers of home health services and operates in 37 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
The District of South Carolina became involved in the investigation when a lawsuit was filed in Columbia under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private citizens to bring civil actions on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery. The South Carolina lawsuit was ultimately dismissed because it was filed after a number of other lawsuits had already been filed around the country. The District of South Carolina nevertheless continued to participate in the investigation. As part of the settlement, the whistleblowers in the seven remaining lawsuits—primarily former Amedisys employees—will collectively split more than $26 million.
“The District of South Carolina has devoted significant resources over the last three years to pursuing claims under the False Claims Act, and this settlement is the latest example of this office’s successful efforts,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina William Nettles. “I am very proud of the work this office has done in this area.”
The settlement resolves allegations that, between 2008 and 2010, certain Amedisys offices improperly billed Medicare for ineligible patients and services. Amedisys allegedly billed Medicare for nursing and therapy services that were medically unnecessary or provided to patients who were not homebound, and otherwise misrepresented patients’ conditions to increase its Medicare payments. These billing violations were the alleged result of management pressure on nurses and therapists to provide care based on the financial benefits to Amedisys, rather than the needs of patients.
Additionally, this settlement resolves certain allegations that Amedisys maintained improper financial relationships with referring physicians. The Anti-Kickback Statute and the Stark Statute restrict the financial relationships that home healthcare providers may have with doctors who refer patients to them. The United States alleged that Amedisys’ financial relationship with a private oncology practice in Georgia—whereby Amedisys employees provided patient care coordination services to the oncology practice at below-market prices—violated statutory requirements.
Amedisys also agreed to be bound by the terms of a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General that requires the companies to implement compliance measures designed to avoid or promptly detect conduct similar to that which gave rise to the settlement.
The United States’ investigation was conducted by the Justice Department’s Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division; the United States Attorneys’ Offices for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Northern District of Alabama, Northern District of Georgia, Eastern District of Kentucky, District of South Carolina, and Western District of New York; the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Office of Personnel Management’s Office of Inspector General; the Defense Criminal Investigative Service of the Department of Defense; and the Railroad Retirement Board’s Office of Inspector General.