NYC Home Health Agencies Pay $24M to Settle Medicaid Fraud Case

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , December 18, 2009

Three home health agencies in New York City will pay nearly $24 million to settle whistleblower allegations that they billed Medicaid for medical services provided by untrained aides.

The home health agencies are: B&H Health Care Services, Inc., known as Nursing Personnel Home Care, a Brooklyn-based licensed home care service agency; Excellent Home Care Services, LLC, of Brooklyn; and Extended Nursing Personnel CHHA, LLC of Manhattan, The businesses will pay $14.3 million to the State of New York, and $9.7 million to the federal government.

State and federal prosecutors say the three agencies used hundreds of home health aides who had received little or no required training to provide medical care for the city's elderly, frail, and indigent. As a result, Medicaid was billed for millions of dollars for services the aides were not qualified to provide.

New York's Medicaid program requires home health aides to complete a minimum 75-hour, supervised training program and be licensed by the Department of Health or the State Education Department.

"The size of this settlement underscores the seriousness of the allegations and the importance of vigorous oversight of the Medicaid program and the medical care of our loved ones," said New York State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo. "Being treated at home is an important option for many New Yorkers, and the companies that provide this service at taxpayer expense have an obligation to ensure that the healthcare workers they employ are qualified for the job."

The New York Attorney General's "Operation Home Alone" program has found statewide fraudulent practices and schemes by home health aides, the schools that purportedly train them, and the agencies that recruit and employ them. The investigation has found, for example, that some HHA training schools sold bogus HHA certificates to untrained people.

The investigation also settles allegations from two whistleblower complaints. Whistleblower Maurice Keshner will receive approximately $1.6 million from New York's recovery from Nursing Personnel. Whistleblower Deborah Yannicelli will receive approximately $994,080 from New York’s recovery from Extended and Excellent.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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