The home health care provider Gentiva Health Services Inc. has paid $12.5 million to settle allegations that it fraudulently billed Medicare for advertising costs and other improper expenses, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Gentiva, one of the largest home health care agencies in the world, with 15,000 employees, engaged in the fraudulent billing from 1998 to 2000 while headquartered in Melville, the office of U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch said. Gentiva denies the allegations of fraud, prosecutors said.
The company said in a statement that it was gratified the Justice Department "acknowledged that Gentiva has denied the government's allegations. . . . We look forward to putting this matter behind us and moving forward as a valued provider of Medicare services."
Gentiva sends skilled nurses and health aides to patients, including many who are on Medicare. "Although Medicare does cover certain advertising costs, it does not pay for the cost of advertising to the general public which seeks to increase patient utilization," Lynch's office said.
"Gentiva improperly billed Medicare for salaries and other costs of employees performing sales functions that were designed to increase patient utilization," the prosecutor's office said.
Gentiva in 2009 began moving its corporate offices to Atlanta, Ga., and last year finalized the closure of the Melville location. Gentiva now has only a vestigial presence on Long Island, with three of its 200 home health care coordinating offices here. They are in Hauppauge, at 888 Veterans Memorial Hwy.; in Riverhead, at 877 East Main St.; and in Westbury, at 865 Merrick Ave.