The U.S. Department of Justice recently announced that Morris Park Nursing Home, a skilled nursing facility in the Bronx, and two individuals agreed to pay a total of $3.46 million to resolve federal Anti-Kickback Statute and False Claims Act violations. The schemes included paying cash kickbacks to a supervisor at a nearby hospital in exchange for patient referrals, and switching residents’ coverage without their consent from Medicare Advantage plans to Medicare Parts A and B (“Original Medicare”).
From 2017 to 2019, Morris Park offered and paid cash bribes, typically $150 for each patient referred, to a hospital discharge planning supervisor for referrals of Original Medicare beneficiaries. Remuneration also included sports tickets, food, and invitations to events. Morris Park’s former Administrator and co-defendant Tzodik Weinberg would deliver cash payments personally, often in a CVS parking lot.
In 2018-2019, Morris Park disenrolled residents from their Medicare Advantage Plans and enrolled them in Original Medicare without obtaining their consent or explaining how the change would impact the resident’s coverage. Morris Park retained Weinberg’s friend, Maier Arm, to assist with the disenrollments, and paid Arm $1,000 for each resident who switched to Original Medicare. Arm then split the fees with Weinberg, unbeknownst to Morris Park.
The settlement was allocated $2.85 million to the Estate of Morris Berkowitz, the owner and operator of Morris Park at the time the activities occurred; $495,000 to Weinberg; and $115,000 to Arm.
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