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Whistleblowers Accuse AHF of Fraud, Kickbacks, Wrongful Termination

Whistleblowers Accuse AHF of Fraud, Kickbacks, Wrongful Termination

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Former managers claim the group's Linkage to Care Program defrauded government, but AHF says the complaints are baseless.

Three former managers at AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed Federal and Florida State Whistleblower Act claims against the organization for illegal patient referral kickbacks, yesterday. The claims filed in the US District Court of Southern Florida claim that AHF defrauded programs like Medicare, Medicaid and HIV/AIDS grant programs by paying employees and patients to generate referrals to its service centers.  

Claims against AHF were first filed in Florida’s federal court in June 2014. In February 2015, both the federal government and the state of Florida declined to intervene in the matter.  

The three former managers, Jack Carrel of Louisiana, Mauricio Ferrer of Florida, and Shawn Loftis of New York state that AHF violated federal and Florida state anti-kickback laws when, in 2010, they allege that AHF implemented its Linkage to Care Program. They allege the program is a system of incentives that rewarded employees for referring patients to its services centers. The system also rewarded patient self-referrals.

In addition, the whistleblowers claim that they were fired after bringing up the legality of the program to their supervisors.

The complaint alleges that in order to maintain federal and state funding, AHF incentivized an increase in testing at its centers by rewarding employees through commission. Employees, they allege, were given a base salary with additional commission based on the volume of tests performed. In addition, testing staff managers were given financial bonuses if their staff exceeded testing goals.  

The complaint alleges that up to $100 was rewarded to an employee who linked a positive-testing patient with AHF care.

This incentives program, according to the whistleblowers, resulted in false and fraudulent referrals that defrauded the federal and state governments of at least $20 million a year since 2010.

“AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s fraudulent conduct is made even worse by the fact that these funds were entrusted to this healthcare company for the purpose of assisting a vulnerable patient population consisting of individuals living with HIV/AIDS, of whom more than 1.1 million reside in the United States,” said lead counsel Theodore Leopold, in a press release.

But AHF claims that it has done nothing illegal, and pointed out in a statement that the federal government and state of Florida both declined to intervene on the case. AHF said that this should show how much merit the claim has.

In the same statement, AHF President Michael Weinstein, stated that AHF has always aimed to reduce the number of positive people living without medical care and treatment.

“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,” said Weinstein. “We look forward to the opportunity to rebut these baseless charges in court.”

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