Halfway houses, nursing homes and assisted living facilities often house large numbers of Medicare and Medicaid eligible people. The U.S. Department of Justice has targeted practices involving those facilities in their broad sweep of potential Medicare fraud perpetrators. Two companies, American Therapeutic Corp and American Sleep Institute recruited these facilities to send them patients, in some cases paying kickbacks to facility personnel or owners and in some cases paying residents directly. The owner of a Broward halfway house became the latest person to be sentenced in the federal court in Miami for his involvement with ATC and ASI.

The 69 year-old owner and operator of Starter House, a halfway house in Broward, pleaded guilty in January to a single count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The charge stemmed from the practice of referring Medicare beneficiaries at his facility to ATC and ASI in exchange for kickbacks. The maximum sentence for that offense is 10 years in prison.

The court records in the case indicate that he was aware of the fraudulent billing practices of ATC and ASI. The patients referred to those companies would often receive no services, or would not require the services for which Medicare was billed on their behalf. The two year sentence includes three additional years of probation after his release.

Medicare fraud is a primary target of federal investigators. They are actively pursuing claims against a wide variety of individuals and businesses in relation to improper billing. Claims against business owners, doctors, hospitals, and individual Medicare recipients are being made by prosecutors all over the country. Florida is considered a center of fraudulent activity and many businesses and residents have found themselves involved in criminal investigations for Medicare fraud.

Source: The Sun Sentinel, "Halfway house owner gets two years for Medicare fraud," by Wayne K. Roustan, 9 March 2012