A nurse from Monroeville, Alabama will receive $15 million for her whistleblower claims against healthcare company Amedisys Inc., AL.com reports. April Brown filed a federal whistleblower suit in 2010 against Amedisys alleging that the company submitted false home healthcare billings to Medicare for services, thereby violating the False Claims Act. On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and Department of Justice officials announced that Amedisys agreed to pay $150 million to settle the suit.
Amedisys is a home health company based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and operates in 37 states. The company admitted no wrong-doing in settling the case, but justice department officials say otherwise. “Amedisys made false Medicare claims, depriving the American taxpayer of millions of dollars and unlawfully enriching Amedisys,” stated Vance in a press release. “The vigorous enforcement work by assistant U.S. attorneys in my office, along with their colleagues in North Georgia, Eastern Pennsylvania, Eastern Kentucky and the Civil Division of the Justice Department, has secured the return of $150 million to the taxpayers and stands as a warning to future wrongdoers that we will aggressively pursue them.”
According to the justice department statement, the settlement also resolves allegations that Amedisys had inappropriate financial ties with referring physicians. The U.S. alleged that the company‚Äôs relationship with a private oncology practice in Georgie violated statutory requirements under the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Stark Statute, which restricts such relationships. According to allegations by the United States, Amedisys provided certain services to the practice at below-market prices.
Brown alleged that while she worked as a home health nurse in the Monroeville area, the company told her to bill for services that she was not actually providing or were unnecessary. Amedisys nurses check off boxes on computerized forms when they visit patients, but the forms were allegedly set up for the highest level of service and did not reflect the true status of patients‚Äô health.
When Brown questioned these actions, she was fired. According to her attorney the single mother worked part-time shifts at a local hospital and cleaned condos to support herself; at one point she faced foreclosure on her home.
Brown was not the only one to sue Amedisys. Six other lawsuits were filed around the country with similar allegations. All cases were consolidated in federal court in Pennsylvania and sealed from public view until the settlement was announced.