A group of Tenn.-based home health care companies entered into a $6.5 million settlement this week to resolve allegations that they improperly billed various state and federal programs for services they provided over a six-year period.
The settlement, which involved a band of home health care agencies collectively known as “Friendship” as well as the companies’ owner, Theophilus Egbujor, resolves allegations regarding the companies’ home health services billed to TennCare, Medicare and TRICARE from July 2007 through July 2013.
Specifically, the entities included in the settlement are Friendship Home Healthcare, Inc., which has also done business as Friendship HealthCare System; Friendship Home Health Agency, LLC; Friendship Home Health, Inc., and Angel Private Duty and Home Health, which have also done business as Friendship Private Duty.
The government asserted that Friendship billed TennCare for private duty nursing services that were furnished or supervised by a woman who was excluded from billing federal and state health care programs, and that Friendship submitted required forms to Tenncare that contained the forged signature of Friendship’s Director of Nursing.
The government also contended that Friendship improperly billed TennCare for services even without the required forms and signatures.
In addition, the government claimed that Friendship failed to repay TennCare within 60 days of learning that the company had wrongly billed for care provided by a woman whose nursing license had lapsed.
The allegations resolved by the settlement were originally raised in a lawsuit filed against the Friendship companies and Egbujor by Kay Flippo, a licensed practical nurse who previously worked for Friendship Home Healthcare.
Flippo brought her claims under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private citizens with knowledge of false claims to bring civil suits on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery.
Under the settlement agreement, Friendship and Egbujor paid a total of $6.5 million, plus interest. Of that amount, $4,025,573 goes to the U.S., and $2,474,427 goes to the state of Tennessee.
Flippo’s share of the settlement had not been determined, according to the Department of Justice.
Written by Jason Oliva