The saying goes big or go home. Well, Ridhima “Amanda” Singh certainly went big – $115m big. The difference being here she may well not be going home but instead straight to prison.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco on Thursday announced charges against 30 defendants. All 30 are accused of a major San Francisco Bay Area Medicare fraud scheme. The fraud involved millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks to health care professionals from the region’s largest home health care provider.
Ridhima “Amanda” Singh, CEO of Hayward-based Amity Home Health Care and Advent Care hospice, is said to have ‘allegedly’ bribed doctors, nurses and other health care professionals to receive patient referrals through Medicare. In return growing her company into the largest home health care provider in the Bay Area.
In exchange for the patient referrals, Singh, 33, and others paid out $8 million in bribes. Including $6 million in cash payments. The U.S. Attorney’s Office went on to confirm that the bribes were paid out in U.S. luxury items, including Golden State Warriors tickets, Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags, pricey dinners, trips to Las Vegas and other freebies.
The fraudulent referrals amounted to $115 million in tainted Medicare billings, officials said. Home health care is one of the fastest-growing industries in the country, making it ripe for fraud, said the Attorney’s office.
So all in all Singh and the two companies plus 27 other defendants (including 13 doctors and five nurses) were charged in the alleged cash-for-patients scheme.
They face charges under the federal government’s “anti-kickback” statute that criminalizes influencing referrals for federally funded health care through payments and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. Singh faces additional charges of giving false statements to investigators and witness tampering that carry five- and 10-year maximum penalties respectively reports the SF Chronicle.
“These doctors and health care professionals sold patients like commodities by placing their own financial gains over the well-being of their patients and betrayed the basic principles of their profession,” said Craig Fair, deputy special agent in charge at the FBI. “Health care patients are not for sale.”