PHILADELPHIA, March 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Mark Conklin, the former owner, operator and sole shareholder of Recovery Home Care Inc. and Recovery Home Care Services Inc. (collectively RHC) has agreed to pay $1.75 million to resolve a False Claims Act lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by a whistleblower represented by Shauna Itri and Dan Miller of Berger & Montague, P.C., a nationally known full-spectrum civil litigation law firm with one of the largest and most successful whistleblower practices in the United States. In June 2014, the United States intervened and joined the whistleblower lawsuit against Recovery Home Care and Conklin. Conklin sold the RHC companies to National Home Care Holdings LLC, on Oct. 9, 2012. RHC's purchaser, National Home Care Holdings settled the case on March 9, 2015, for $1.1 million.
The lawsuit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which provides an opportunity for private parties to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the United States if they have some knowledge of fraud committed against the government. The private parties are entitled to receive a share of any funds recovered through the lawsuit. The False Claims Act authorizes the United States to intervene in such a lawsuit and take over primary responsibility for litigating it.
According to the whistleblower's complaint, RHC and Mark Conklin violated the False Claims Act by provided remuneration to physicians to induce patient referrals and reward physicians for prior referrals in violation of the Anti- Kickback Statute ("AKS"), 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b and the Stark Law, 42 U.S.C. § 1395nn.
Home health care is a wide range of health care services that can be given in your home for an illness or injury. Through the Medicare program, the United States pays for certain home health services rendered to Medicare beneficiaries who meet specific coverage requirements. In paying for these services, Medicare depends on physicians to exercise independent judgment in the best interests of patients. Financial incentives tied to referrals have a tendency to corrupt the health care system in ways that harm programs and their beneficiaries. Unfair competition can result when honest providers have difficulty competing with unscrupulous providers who pay to generate business. This results in systemic corruption of healthcare programs and defrauding of the public. In the case against RHC, the whistleblower provided information detailing how RHC was paying physicians to refer Medicare patients to RHC for home health services in violation of the AKS, Stark Law and False Claims Act; thereby defrauding the public.
Shauna Itri, lead counsel for the whistleblower, praised the government prosecutors and investigators: "The government attorneys and investigators have been diligent in investigating the allegations in the complaint and are committed to pursuing both individuals and companies who are committing fraud." Itri further stated, "Home health care fraud is rampant, and has cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars."
Berger & Montague's whistleblower practice group, which has recovered well over $1 billion for federal and state governments over the course of the last decade, is committed to filing and litigating qui tam lawsuits under the federal and state False Claims Acts, the SEC whistleblower program, and the IRS whistleblower program.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the Middle District of Florida, is captioned U.S. ex rel. John Doe v. Recovery Home Care, Mark Conklin, and Glen Castillo.
Shauna B. Itri, Esq.
SOURCE Berger & Montague, P.C.