- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 10, 2001

American HomePatient Inc. and its affiliate, American HomePatient Delaware, will pay $7 million to settle allegations that the home health care company overcharged the government, the Justice Department said yesterday.
The settlement resolves allegations that the two companies, collectively known as AHOM, providers of medical equipment and supplies, submitted claims for payment based on inadequate supporting documentation or stemming from illegal patient referrals to several federal programs.
Justice Department spokeswoman Katie Biber said AHOM submitted claims that items and services provided to patients were medically necessary, duly ordered by the patients' physicians and properly delivered on the dates specified by the company and its affiliate. In fact, the documents were either falsified or otherwise inadequate to support the services billed to the United States, she said.
In addition, she said, AHOM was accused of billing the government for items and services furnished to patients when, in fact, the patients were referred to the company in exchange for illegal remuneration.
According to the settlement agreement, AHOM made excessive billings from January 1995 through December 1998. The United States said three federally funded programs Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare, the military health care program were overcharged by the defendants' unlawful practices.
"Today's settlement is an example of the Justice Department's determination to ensure that the United States is compensated for all False Claims Act violations involving health care equipment suppliers," said Stuart Schiffer, acting assistant attorney general for the department's civil division.
Miss Biber said the settlement resolves charges brought against AHOM by Kenneth Hollis, a former employee.
As part of the settlement, she said Mr. Hollis will receive $1.17 million. Under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, an individual can file an action on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of the settlement if the government takes over the case and reaches a monetary agreement with the defendants.
Mr. Hollis filed his suit in 1997 in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green, Ky. The settlement was negotiated by the Justice Department's civil division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Kentucky.

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