Beverly Cooper could spend 10 years in prison for enabling her employer to bilk more than $24 million out of federally funded healthcare programs. Cooper, a registered nurse, pleaded guilty friday to “fabricated nursing visit forms” which caused Reliance Home Care, LLC, First Choice Home Health Care Services, Inc. and Accessible Home Care, Inc. “to submit claims to Medicare for services that were not medically necessary and/or not provided,” according to a DoJ press release.
Home Health nurses and others who provide services for Medicare patients risk not only their coveted licenses but also the chance that they will end up behind bars when they comply with their employers’ instructions to falsify medical charts.
Conversely, if they report what they know to Medicare, then they could not only protect their licenses and liberty but also may receive an award. Had Cooper come forward instead of participating in the fraud, she would likely be entitled to between $3,600,000 and $6,000,000 for her information instead of going to jail — because qualified whistleblowers under the qui tam sections of the federal False Claims Act are entitled to no less than 15% and no more than 25% of the damages and penalties in cases pursued by the federal authorities.