Owner and Administrator of Miami Home Health Companies Pleads Guilty to Role in $74 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme
WASHINGTON—A Miami resident who owned a home health care company and was the administrator of another home health care company pleaded guilty today for her participation in a $74 million Medicare fraud scheme.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Acting Special Agent in Charge Ryan Lynch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami Office made the announcement.
Elsa Ruiz, 45, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke in the Southern District of Florida to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Her sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 8, 2014.
According to court documents, Ruiz was an owner of Professional Home Care Solutions Inc. (Professional Home Care) and an administrator of LTC Professional Consultants Inc. (LTC), Miami home health care agencies that purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries. Ruiz and her co-conspirators operated LTC and Professional Home Care for the purpose of billing the Medicare program for, among other things, expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary and/or were not provided.
Also according to court documents, Ruiz ran and oversaw the schemes operating out of LTC and Professional Home Care. Ruiz and co-conspirators paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters, who provided patients to LTC and Professional Home Care, as well as prescriptions, plans of care (POCs) and certifications for medically unnecessary therapy and home health services for Medicare beneficiaries. Ruiz and her co-conspirators used these prescriptions, POCs and medical certifications to fraudulently bill the Medicare program for unnecessary home health care and therapy services.
From approximately January 2006 to June 2012, LTC and Professional Home Care submitted approximately $74 million in claims for home health care services that were not medically necessary and/or not provided, and Medicare paid approximately $45 million on those claims.
The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Joseph S. Beemsterboer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 1,900 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers. To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.