United Energy Workers Healthcare, Corp., Four Corners Health Care, Inc., and Brightmore Home Care of Kentucky LLC (collectively, “UEW”) have agreed to pay $9,000,000 to the federal government to settle a qui tam lawsuit filed by two whistleblowers represented by Helmer Martins Tate & Garrett Co., LPA. See the Government’s press release.
UEW provides in-home health care to beneficiaries of the Energy Employee Occupational Illness Compensation Act (“EEOICPA”) and Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (“RECA”)—programs managed by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of Justice. EEOCIPA and RECA authorizes medical benefits and services to certain workers with occupational illnesses arising from radiation exposure linked to working at ultra-hazardous radioactive facilities across the United States.
This settlement resolves allegations that UEW knowingly submitted or caused the submission of false and fraudulent claims to DOL and the EEOICPA program by:
- billing for in-home healthcare services that were never provided or were medically unnecessary;
- improperly providing and billing for in-home healthcare in hospital settings;
- instructing caregivers to upcharge their time in order to maximize their hourly billings;
- providing and billing for services that were not covered by the EEOICPA or RECA program (e.g., yard work and running personal errands for beneficiaries);
- billing for more hours/services than were approved by DOL during an allotted time frame;
- billing DOL for services without providing supporting nursing notes evidencing the work performed;
- providing services to beneficiaries without all required and necessary and proper licensures;
- offering free services or remuneration in exchange for patients in violation of the Anti-Kickback statute (e.g., offering or providing caregiver sign-on bonuses and items provided to patients); and
- providing in-home healthcare without possessing the required licensures.
These allegations were brought to the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice by our clients, two former employees of UEW. We filed a False Claims Act suit on their behalf in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in December 2016, and the case had been under seal while it was being investigated by the government. After our clients’ case was filed, two other qui tam lawsuits were filed against UEW. The government intervened in our case, and a settlement was reached with UEW while the case was under seal. As part of the settlement, our whistleblower clients will receive an award of $1,800,000 (20% of the government’s recovery).
Also resolved separately from the qui tam settlement were retaliation claims brought by one of our whistleblowers and the whistleblowers’ claim for attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses incurred in pursuing the case.
Helmer, Martins, Tate & Garrett attorneys James A. Tate, B. Nathaniel Garrett, James B. Helmer, Jr., Paul B. Martins, and Julie Webster Popham represented the whistleblowers.
“This case demonstrates the power of the public-private partnership of the False Claims Act—a law that incentivizes integrity,” said B. Nathaniel Garrett. “Through their lawsuit, our clients reported their allegations of fraud to the federal government and assisted the government’s investigation, which entitled them to a percentage of the recovery. Our whistleblowers’ courage to come forward and report allegations of fraud was rewarded.”
“We are proud to represent our brave clients in their six-year effort to protect these valuable federal programs. While their primary goal from the beginning has been to safeguard the EEOICPA and RECA from abuse, the $1.8 million award they are receiving through the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act is well earned. We view this settlement as vindication of the concerns they brought to the Government’s attention, and it is further testament to the power of the False Claims Act as an indispensable weapon in the Government’s fraud-fighting arsenal” said James A. Tate.
The whistleblowers and their counsel wish to extend a special thanks to the attorneys in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio and investigators at the Department of Labor for their efforts in resolving this matter.
About Helmer Martins Tate & Garrett Co., LPA
Helmer, Martins, Tate & Garrett has prosecuted False Claims Act cases on behalf of whistleblowers longer than any law firm in America. Since 1984, we have lectured, authored treatises, written articles, litigated, and lobbied for the rights of whistleblowers who come forward to protect the public treasury. Our advocacy on behalf of whistleblowers under the False Claims Act has taken us to the United States Supreme Court and through the halls of Congress. Our cases have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and on 60 Minutes. Our lawyers are repeatedly recognized by organizations such as Best Lawyers in America, the National Law Journal, Super Lawyers, US News and World Report, and Taxpayers Against Fraud. Collectively, our cases have recovered more than $1 billion for the taxpayer.
We pride ourselves on litigating some of the toughest and most complex cases in the country—especially those under the Federal False Claims Act. Under the False Claims Act, those with knowledge of fraud being committed against the government, can be entitled a financial reward of between 15% to 25% of any recovery when the government joins the case.
To report healthcare fraud, please contact us for a free, confidential consultation.