Main | Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Former Staffers Accuse AIDS Healthcare Foundation Of Massive Kickback Scheme

According to a press release published by lawyers representing former AIDS Healthcare Foundation staffers, the combative organization has engaged in a massive patient referral kickback scheme that has defrauded the federal government to the tune of $20M a year. The press release begins:
Three former managers of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Inc. (AHF) have filed Federal and Florida State Whistleblower Act claims against the nation's largest supplier of HIV/AIDS medical care for illegal patient referral kickbacks. AHF is charged with defrauding Federal healthcare programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Health and Human Services HIV/AIDS grant programs of at least $20 million a year in false claims since 2010. Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC represents the plaintiffs.

Filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on April 3 under the Federal False Claims Act and Florida False Claims Act, the complaint is based on the personal knowledge and documentation of Whistleblowers Jack Carrel of Louisiana, Mauricio Ferrer of Florida, and Shawn Loftis of New York. All held management positions at AHF prior to their jobs being terminated– despite having federal protection under the False Claims Act – after they notified their supervisors about the company's unlawful practices.

According to the complaint, AHF conducted an organization-wide criminal effort across at least 12 states, including Florida, that boosted funding from federal healthcare programs by generating HIV/AIDS referrals to the company's various service centers. AHF did this by unlawfully paying referral incentives to employees and patients in violation of the anti-kickback statute.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation operates a chain of HIV/AIDS specialty pharmacies and thrift shops. They are perhaps best known for their aggressive advertising campaign against the use of Truvada as a daily HIV preventive and for their campaign to force the use of condoms in porn productions. Hit the link, there's much more in the press release. (Via Towleroad)

UPDATE: AIDS Healthcare Foundation head Michael Weinstein responds via email.
“With more than sixty percent of the 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States currently not in regular medical care and treatment, it remains core to AHF’s mission to try and reduce that number. Not only has AIDS Healthcare Foundation done nothing wrong, our pro-active approach to finding and linking HIV-positive individuals to lifesaving care and treatment is critical to stopping HIV in this country. The fact that the Federal Government and the State of Florida have each already formally declined to intervene in the legal action brought on behalf of three former AHF employees speaks volumes about the merits of this case. Small incentives for linking and retaining people in care are mainstays of public health interventions—including by many CDC projects. We look forward to the opportunity to rebut these baseless charges in court.”

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