The executive director of a Lexington-based home health agency has agreed to pay the U.S. Government $1,082,416 to settle allegations that she provided unlawful compensation to physicians who referred patients to the agency.
Vicki S. House, a resident of Scott County, was the Secretary and an Executive Director of Nurses’ Registry and Home Health Corporation (“Nurses’ Registry”), an agency that provides home health services to patients throughout Central Kentucky.
According to the settlement agreement, from March 2006 through April 2010, House provided compensation to three local physicians who referred patients to Nurses’ Registry. Nurses’ Registry then submitted claims to Medicare seeking payment for the services it provided to the patients referred by these physicians. The U.S. Government contends that this conduct violated the Stark Law, which prohibits the submission of claims resulting from referrals from physicians to whom the agency has provided compensation.
“We intend to use every tool available to protect the taxpayers from those who abuse federal health care programs for personal gain,” said Kerry B. Harvey, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “Every dollar lost to fraud and abuse is a dollar that is unavailable to meet the needs of those who depend on Medicare for vital healthcare needs. We will continue to vigorously protect the interests of the United States in this litigation.”
Nurses’ Registry and the Estate of its former owner and Chief Executive Officer, Lennie G. House, are also defendants in the United States’ complaint that alleges False Claims Act violations.
This settlement only resolves the government’s claims against Vicki House; it does not resolve any allegations for False Claims Act violations against Nurses’ Registry or Lennie House’s Estate. Those defendants are scheduled for trial in August 2015. If they are found liable, Nurses’ Registry and Lennie House’s Estate will be liable for three times the amount of money Medicare paid the agency for false claims, and the agency would be excluded from further participation in federal health care programs.
The investigation was conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations; the FBI; the Office of the Kentucky Attorney General, Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control Unit; and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul McCaffrey and Christine Corndorf represented the federal government in this case.