Home health agency owners in Detroit should be on high alert following the conviction and sentencing of three owners involved in fraud schemes worth $45 million.
On Monday, Zafar Mehmood and Badar Ahmadani were convicted on various counts of healthcare fraud and anti-kickback statute violations for a scheme that bilked Medicare out of $33 million, according to an announcement by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The pair owned four home health companies located in Detroit: Access Care Home Care Inc., Patient Care Home Care Inc., Hands On Health Home Care Inc., and All State Home Care Inc. Between 2006 and 2011, the two owners paid kickbacks to recruiters, who then paid cash to patients so they would sign up for home health benefits through one of the four companies. The owners also paid kickbacks to physicians to refer patients for unnecessary services.
Prosecutors also showed that Mehmood and Ahmadani fabricated patient documents in order to make claims look legitimate, and that Mehmood stole law documents seized during a raid of his companies from an Office of Inspector General (OIG) facility.
Days earlier, another owner of a home health company was sentenced to 80 months in prison for his role in a $12.6 million scheme involving 11 other participants have already been convicted, according to the DOJ. Mohammad Sadiq, who owned two home health providers in Detroit, pleaded guilty to paying kickbacks to patient recruiters to obtain Medicare beneficiary information. Sadiq used the patient information to create fake patient files and bill for services that were not necessary or not provided.
In addition to serving 80 months in jail, a district judge ordered Sadiq to pay $14.1 million in restitution.
Historically, Detroit has been a geographical hotspot for home health fraud, along with other areas of the Midwest. In April, however, top officials at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit indicated that home health has actually gone down in the city, thanks to a moratorium on new home health agencies. As a result, fraudsters have gravitated to other industries within the city. In the federal government's recent fraud takedown, 16 individuals from Detroit were arrested for a hospice fraud scheme totaling $122 million.