Four San Diego facilities owned by California’s largest nursing home operator will pay $6.9 million to resolve civil allegations that their employees paid kickbacks for patient referrals and submitted fraudulent bills to government healthcare programs, authorities announced in November.
The facilities are owned by Los Angeles-based Brius Management Co. In its announcement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California claimed employees paid discharge planners at San Diego’s Scripps Mercy Hospital to direct patient referrals to the facilities. In addition, a whistleblower lawsuit alleged the facilities filed false Medicare and Medi-Cal claims for residents who were referred from Scripps.
The four facilities — Point Loma Convalescent Hospital, Brighton Place-San Diego, Brighton Place-Spring Valley and Amaya Springs Health Care Center — entered into Deferred Prosecution Agreements with the attorney’s office in 2016, in which they admitted workers had paid kickbacks without Brius’ knowledge.
Employees used corporate credit cards to purchase gift cards, massages, tickets to sporting events, and a cruise on a charter vessel, giving them to the hospital’s planners as kickbacks, according to authorities.
Brius Management could not be reached for comment.
In addition to the settlement, the facilities have entered into corporate integrity agreements with the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Kickbacks for patient referrals are illegal under federal law because of the corrupting influence on our nation’s healthcare system,” said Acting United States Attorney Sandra R. Brown. “This settlement demonstrates our resolve to combat fraud that compromises the care provided to patients served by a government healthcare plan. This case further shows the power of whistleblowers to shine a light on corrupt activities.”