This week’s Department of Justice “catch of the week” goes to Fort Lauderdale based A Plus Home Health Care Inc. On Wednesday, the home health care company — and its owners, Tracy Nemerofsky and her father, Stephen Nemerofsky — agreed to pay $1.65 million to settle charges A Plus paid spouses of referring physicians for sham marketing positions to induce patient referrals. The government alleged these payments constituted illegal kickbacks in violation of the False Claims Act. See DOJ Press Release
Specifically, the government claimed that, beginning in 2006, A Plus engaged in a scheme to increase Medicare referrals in the heavily saturated southern Florida home health care market. The company allegedly hired at least seven spouses and one boyfriend of physicians to perform marketing duties but required them to do little if any real work. Their salaries instead were allegedly for the purpose of inducing and rewarding the physicians’ referrals of Medicare patients to A Plus. According to the government’s complaint, Ms. Nemerofsky fired at least two spouses when their husbands failed to refer a certain number of patients to A Plus.
Ms. Nemerofsky allegedly reaped large rewards from the scheme, receiving a salary of $685,000 from A Plus in 2010, when A Plus’ business increased as a result of Medicare referrals generated from the sham marketer scheme. The government’s allegations originated from a whistleblower lawsuit filed by William Guthrie under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. He is a former director of development at A Plus. The government previously settled with five couples that allegedly accepted payments from A Plus under the scheme: Steven and Fortuna Hornreich, Mark and Meredith Rogovin, Sam and Christy Sareh, Gary and Stacy Wolfson, and Keifer Wyble and Nuria Rodriguez.
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