Ties between nursing homes, home health raise kickback concerns

Partnerships between assisted living facilities and home health companies are a natural fit based on their respective roles within the post-acute care environment, but those partnerships can also lead anti-kickback violations, intentional or otherwise.

It's not uncommon for home health agencies to rent space within nursing home facilities, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Although most arrangements are legal, it presents a hightened opportunity for kickbacks.

"Renting space in an assisted-living facility raises a red flag," William Dombi, vice president for law at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, told the newspaper. "A home healthcare agency must make sure that what they're doing is inbounds."

Dombi says some members have pointed to competitors that are renting space at rates above fair-market value, presumably in an effort to steer patient referrals. Although it's perfectly legal for home health providers to rent space and provide services to nursing home residents, that agreement should not be dependent on patient referrals. The potential for kickback liability has led some Ohio nursing homes to refrain from renting space to home health providers altogether.

Ohio has been a hotbed of home health fraud over the past several years, prompting legislators to take a closer look at fraud and abuse within the industry. Other areas of the Midwest have also faced an onslaught of home health schemes, including Minnesota, which has struggled to recoup funds from home health fraud schemes dating back to 2009. In September, seven people in Chicago were indicted for a $6 million fraud scam involving kickbacks for home health referrals.

For more:
- read The Columbus Dispatch article

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