Home Health Owner Gets 10 Years, $13 Million Fine for Fraud

A former home health care company owner will spend 10 years in prison and pay $13.8 million for being the leader of a large-scale Medicare fraud, under a sentence handed down Tuesday by a U.S. District Court judge.

The scheme involved paying kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters and Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for referrals to Longacre Home Health Corporation in Miami, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. In addition, Longacre fraudulently billed Medicare for home health and therapy services that were not medically necessary or were not provided—a scheme enabled in part by prescriptions for these unneeded services that were bought at doctors’ offices and clinics.

Longacre owner Alexander Lara, a 46-year-old from Hollywood, Fla., pleaded guilty to the charges in February.

In addition to the prison sentence and fine, Lara will forfeit the roughly $13.8 million in traceable proceeds that Longacre received between 2009 and 2014 as a result of the fraud, the DOJ announced.

Miami is among the metropolitan areas subject to a moratoria on new home health agencies. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services enacted the policy in areas considered fraud hotspots. Other cities affected include Chicago, Dallas and Detroit.