Home Health Owner Indicted in $450,000 Kickback Scheme

The owner of an Illinois home health care company has been accused of defrauding Medicare out of at least $450,000, according to a new federal indictment.

Jacqueline Tuanqui, who owns Harwood Heights, Illinois-based Hexagram Home Health Care LLC, allegedly paid kickbacks to marketers to generate referrals of Medicare beneficiaries to Hexagram. An outside marketer, Susie Avellanosa, supposedly received payments from Tuanqui in exchange for referring non-homebound Medicare beneficiaries to the agency.

Avellanosa, who was also charged in the indictment, owns Elgin, Illinois-based Allied Care Services Inc.

The indictment contends that the scheme started around November 2012 and went on until about April 2014. As part of the scheme, Tuanqui and Avellanosa signed written contracts that were intended to hide the true nature of the kickback deal, which involved Avellanosa being paid for supplying a pre-determined number of patients to Hexagram every month. The written agreements fraudulently stated that Avellanosa would be paid based on the number of hours she worked, without mentioning the real nature of the conspiracy, the U.S. Department of Justice reported.

Tuanqui paid the bribes despite the fact that some of the patients did not qualify for the in-home treatment Hexagram provided, according to the indictment. Medicare allegedly paid Hexagram at least $450,000 for treatment given to patients who were referred there because of a kickback.

Tuanqui has been charged with one count of conspiracy to pay or receive healthcare kickbacks, and eight counts of paying kickbacks to induce referrals of Medicare beneficiaries. Avellanosa, meanwhile, has also been charged with one count of conspiracy to pay or receive healthcare kickbacks, and eight counts of receiving kickbacks in return for referring Medicare beneficiaries.

Both women pleaded not guilty during arraignments before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary M. Rowland on Dec. 9. Their next court appearance is scheduled to take place Jan. 28, 2016.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson