The owners of a Palm Beach Gardens home-health agency have agreed to pay $1.5 million to the federal government to settle allegations that the company illegally paid kickbacks to marketers to lead to patient referrals, federal officials announced Tuesday.
Healthquest, Inc. owners Frank Jaramillo and Ruth Jaramillo also agreed to hire an independent organization that will conduct reviews over five years and ensure the company is complying with federal laws.
“Kickback schemes drive up the cost of health care and lead to medical services that are often unnecessary and not in the best interests of patients,” Benjamin Greenberg, the U.S. attorney in South Florida, said in a prepared statement. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to hold health care companies and their owners responsible for using kickbacks to line their pockets at the expense of taxpayers and federal health care beneficiaries."
A former marketer for Healthquest brought the alleged activity to the attention of the federal government.
She ultimately filed suit against the company on behalf of the government under the False Claims Act.
The law provides that portions of recoveries go to whistleblowers, with the woman receiving $300,000 in the Healthquest case.