Arizona-based home health care agency pays nearly $10 million to settle claims related to Department of Energy health care program

by Ben Vernia | January 7th, 2024

On January 4, the Department of Justice announced that Arizona-based Atlantic Home Health Care LLC had agreed to pay nearly $10 million to settle a whistleblower’s allegations that the company defrauded a federal program intended to provide health care to former Department of Energy employees. According to DOJ’s press release:

Atlantic Home Health Care LLC (AHH), a home health care agency operating in Arizona and eight other states, has agreed to pay $9,990,944 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by submitting false claims to the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICP or the Energy Program), a healthcare program administered by the Department of Labor (DOL) for the benefit of Department of Energy employees and contractors with occupational illnesses. The settlement is based on AHH’s financial condition.

The United States alleged that, between 2017 and 2021, AHH falsely billed the Energy Program for in-home nursing and personal care when its employees were not physically present in patients’ homes. The government also alleged that AHH paid kickbacks, in the form of cash payments up to $5,000 for patient referrals via its “friends and family program” and in-kind payments for food, internet, travel and other expenses made to patients and their families. The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits parties who participate in federal healthcare programs, such as the Energy Program, from knowingly and willfully paying or receiving any remuneration in return for referring an individual to, or arranging for the furnishing of, any item or services for which payment is made by, the federal healthcare programs. Prior to the United States’ disclosure to AHH of its investigation, AHH made a voluntary disclosure to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG) concerning the company’s “friends and family” program and in-kind remuneration to patients and their families. In the settlement agreement, the United States acknowledged AHH’s cooperation in this regard.

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The government announced that the whistleblower, a former executive of the company, will receive about $1.7 million of the settlement (a 17% relator’s share).

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