COSTA MESA — Apria Healthcare Group Inc. will pay $1.65 million to settle a federal lawsuit alleging that the company made illegal kickbacks to doctors in exchange for referrals of home health-services patients, the Justice Department said.
The company, which had tentatively accepted the agreement in December, admitted no wrongdoing. Apria said it is settling the case to avoid a costly legal battle.
The government charged that Apria submitted false Medicare claims for patients who were referred to the company in exchange for kickbacks to health-care providers in Georgia and Florida. The government identified one doctor group, Georgia Lung Associates of Austell, Ga., that the Justice Department said got payments under a sham consulting contract for referring Medicare patients for home-oxygen services. The Medicare federal health insurance program covers elderly and disabled Americans.
Apria has said the allegations involve operations by a corporate predecessor, Homedco Group Inc., which merged with Abbey Healthcare Group Inc. in June 1995 to form Apria.