- Ramon Collado Gonzalez of Miami, Florida pleaded guilty Monday to acting as the straw owner of Golden Home Health Care as part of a $4.2 million home healthcare fraud scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida announced Tuesday.
Gonzalez admitted he was recruited to cover for the real owners, Mildrey Gonzalez and Milka Alfaro, who were charged separately for their alleged roles.
- Gonzalez signed documents for the submission of false Medicare claims in exchange for monthly payments and periodic bonuses, the press release states.
The scheme was another casualty of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which has been cracking down on fraud since 2007 and now operates in nine cities across the U.S., with South Florida being a hot spot. The effort has so far resulted in charges to nearly 2,900 defendants who have billed Medicare for a total of more than $10 billion.
Gonzalez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and make false statements in connection with a federal health care benefit program, the DOJ reported, adding sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 24, 2016.
DOJ spokesman Peter Carr told Modern Healthcare in June that about half of the DOJ's current healthcare fraud caseload centers on home health agencies, with many such cases involving claims for treatments that were either unnecessary, not actually provided, or kickbacks for referrals.
In addition, about 5% of home health agencies nationwide show signs of potentially fraudulent activity, according to an HHS Office of Inspector General alert, Modern Healthcare reported.
Scrutiny of home health agencies is expected to continue in the federal government's fight against healthcare fraud.