The CEO of Amity Home Health Care, Ridhima Singh, 13 doctors, five nurses, a social worker, and 10 others have been charged with participating in a massive kickback scheme created by Singh. According to prosecutors, the CEO paid about $115 million in bribes to the other defendants in exchange for referrals of Medicare beneficiaries.
Allegedly, the defendants systematically referred patients for hospice care to both Amity and Advent Care Inc., instead of referring them to appropriate facilities based on their particular situation. In some cases, Medicare beneficiaries were referred to hospice in exchange for kickbacks that included a ‘longevity’ bonus (as long as the patient was alive, the referring doctor would benefit financially).
According to its website, Amity “is a home health agency that is committed to providing the best quality of skilled care to [their] patients in the comforts of their own home.”
In a recently unsealed affidavit, the FBI stated that Amity’s kickback scheme, "could encourage doctors to abandon curative options earlier with potentially life-threatening outcomes."
The alleged misconduct first came to the government’s attention in 2016, when employees of a competing Bay Area home healthcare provider filed a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services. Its authors claimed that the Hayward-headquartered company was paying kickbacks to doctors to refer patients to certain providers.
The government then began investigating these claims with the help of the claimants. The large-scale investigation that ensued allowed investigators to obtain substantial evidence of the participation of all 30 defendants in the fraudulent scheme.
Singh was recorded bribing healthcare professionals and paying kickbacks to marketers. According to prosecutors, the illegal payments were commonly disguised as gifts, fees, or donations.
Investigators found evidence that the CEO’s team of ‘marketers’ would offer lavish dinners and sporting event tickets to doctors in order to induce them to refer patients to Amity and Advent.
One of the FBI agents who participated in the investigation said in a statement that, "The transition to a home health agency should be based on medical and personal needs — not cash payments or thinly disguised referral bribes as alleged in these cases."
According to U.S. Attorney David Anderson, “This is the largest cash-for-patients scheme ever charged criminally in the Northern District of California.”
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