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A Florida home health agency and its owners paid $1.65 million when a whistleblower
filed a False Claims Act lawsuit claiming the HHA was trying an end run
around the Anti-Kickback Statute. Everybody knows that nursing homes and
hospitals are not supposed to pay doctors for referrals. Congress passed
the Anti-Kickback Statute to stop the unseemly practice of doctors selling
their medical judgment for cash. Instead of paying the doctors directly,
the home health agency cozied up to the doctor’s spouses. But the
end run came to the same end: the home health agency and its owners paid
the Government back for the extra referrals they got.

A Plus Home Health Care Inc., Tracy Nemerofsky and Stephen Nemerofsky – $1.65 million

A Fort Lauderdale, Florida, home health care company wound up in the hotseat
after a whistleblower filed a False Claims Act suit to report that the
company was engaging in a brazen kickback scheme. According to whistleblower
William Guthrie, A Plus Home Health Care, Inc., was hiring the spouses
of doctors for no-work jobs as a disguised way of paying kickbacks to
their physician spouses. A Plus wanted to generate more referrals, but
it knew that it could get caught violating the Anti-Kickback Statute if
it paid for the referals directly. According to Guthrie, A Plus and its
owners, a father-daughter team, came up with a scheme to put cash into
the doctors’ pockets via a round-about method — by paying
the doctor’s spouses for sham marketing jobs.

The United States took up the banner after Guthrie, who had been the director
of development at A Plus Home Health Care, filed his suit. The U.S. filed
a complaint also, accusing the company of hiring seven spouses and one
boyfriend of doctors who could refer a lot of patients for home health
services. Apparently A Plus was pretty serious about making sure the arrangement
was profitable for A Plus, because the U.S. says Tracy Nemerofsky fired
at least two of her “employees” when their husbands did not
refer a sufficient amount of business to A Plus.

The U.S. also went after the doctors and their spouses, and by September
2014 five of the eight couples had settled with the Government in order
to resolve allegations that they had accepted kickback payments disguised
as employee compensation.

A Plus and the Nemerofskys did not concede liability in the case. Because
he was the relator (whistleblower) in the qui tam case, Guthrie was entitled
to receive a percentage of the amount they paid the Government, however.
The U.S. did not announce what amount he would receive in the press release
they issued when they settled the case with A Plus and Tracy and Stephen

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Wifredo A. Ferrer,
said bluntly: “Kickback schemes undermine the integrity of our public
health care programs.” The Special Agent in Charge, Derrick L. Jackson
of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, also
pointed out that kickbacks, however disguised, “undermine impartial
medical judgment, corrode the public’s trust in the health care
system and divert scarce Medicare funding.”


Lee’s peers have named her a Georgia SuperLawyer every year for two decades.