Thirty San Francisco Bay Area doctors, nurses, and others who work in the health care field have been indicted on charges related to a Medicare bribery scheme that involved medical workers steering Medicare patients to Amity Home Health Care and related companies in exchange for cash and gifts.
Amity provided $8 million worth of kickbacks for the referrals, ranging from Golden State Warriors tickets, Las Vegas trips and Louis Vuitton handbags to “literal envelopes of cash,” David Anderson, US attorney for the Northern District of California, said at a news conference.
The Medicare patients brought in $115 million in funds to Amity and Advent, authorities said.
The complaints said law enforcement officers recorded each defendant offering, approving or accepting illegal payments for patient referrals.
“These doctors and health care professionals sold patients like commodities, placing their own financial gains over the well-being of their patients and betraying the basic principles of their profession,” Craig Fair, the FBI’s deputy special agent in charge for San Francisco, said in a news release.
However, there’s no evidence that the patients received poor care, Anderson said.
Those charged include Ridhima “Amanda” Singh, Amity’s chief executive officer.
Incredibly, the bribery went on for years and the feds are still investigating.
“These doctors and health care professionals sold patients like commodities by placing their own financial gains over the well-being of their patients and betrayed the basic principles of their profession,” said Craig Fair, deputy special agent in charge at the FBI. “Health care patients are not for sale.”
The FBI uncovered the alleged fraud scheme after a multiyear undercover operation that is still ongoing, he said.
Authorities were tipped off after two employees of another home health agency complained to the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about the kickbacks at Amity and Advent, according to court papers.
One of the employees agreed to act as a cooperating witness and teamed up with an undercover FBI agent who pretended to be “someone representing investors” and began meeting with the defendants about setting up illegal kickbacks for another company, officials said.
In truth, Medicare and Medicaid payments are easy picking for the grifters, the con men, and even the organized criminal elements because oversight of those programs is a joke. Senator Rand Paul estimated in his semi-annual “Waste Report” that there were $48 billion in “improper payments” disbursed from Medicare alone. And no one has a clue how much fraud is being perpetrated on the American taxpayer. It took the FBI years to figure out this scheme. How many other cases are out there that haven’t been uncovered yet?
This particular $115 million fraud scheme is actually small potatoes. Just last April, 24 were arrested and charged in a mind-boggling $1.2 billion Medicare fraud scheme involving “kickbacks for prescribing unneeded back, shoulder, wrist and knee braces to elderly and disabled patients and charging the government.”
It’s just that easy.