Health Care

Fort Lauderdale home health firm settles federal whistleblower case.

A Plus Home Health Care in Fort Lauderdale and its owners, Tracy Nemerofsky and her father Stephen Nemerofsky, agreed to pay $1.65 million to the federal government to settle a whistleblower suit that involved allegations of kickbacks to physicians’ spouses for referrals of Medicare patients.

The government alleged that A Plus schemed to boost its Medicare referrals by hiring at least seven physicians’ spouses and one physician’s boyfriend for marketing jobs that entailed little or no work, as an inducement for the doctors to steer business their way.

The whistleblower was William Guthrie, a former director of development at A Plus. Guthrie raised the allegations under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private parties to sue on behalf of the United States for the submission of false claims and to get a share of any recovery. The government can intervene and take charge of such suits, as it did in this case.

Guthrie’s share “has not yet been determined,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

In a statement, Tracy Nemerofsky, president of A Plus Family of Health Care Companies, said: “While the allegations in the lawsuit were completely without merit, we chose to settle this action to avoid the financial costs and distractions that would have come with further legal proceedings. In this settlement, A Plus, Tracy Nemerofsky and Dr. Stephen Nemerofsky make no admission of fault or liability.’’

The federal government said it previously settled with five couples who allegedly accepted payments from A Plus. They are Steven and Fortuna Hornreich; Mark and Meredith Rogovin; Sam and Christy Sareh; Gary and Stacy Wolfson; and Keifer Wyble and Nuria Rodriguez, according to the Justice Department.