Washington, DC— January 5, 2024— Atlantic Home Health Care, LLC agreed to pay $9.9 million – on an ability to pay basis – to settle allegations the company treated patients suffering from radiation exposure, who required in-home patient care, by telephone. The lawsuit was filed under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act by Phillips & Cohen LLP and Halunen Law PLLC in the U.S. District Court in the District of Arizona.
Historical Context of Radiation Exposure and EEOICPA
Thousands of people were unknowingly exposed to radiation as a result of nuclear weapons the United States built and tested during World War II and the Cold War. Those exposed included workers who built and tested nuclear weapons, workers who processed and transported uranium, and people who lived in proximity to the areas impacted by nuclear fallout. The radiation exposure resulted in cancers, birth defects, and many other illnesses, some of which were asymptomatic for decades.
The Department of Energy enacted the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (EEOICPA) to provide compensation and free medical treatment, specifically including extensive in-home healthcare, for radiation-related conditions.
Allegations of Fraudulent Practices by Atlantic Home Health Care
Atlantic Home Health Care provides home health and other health care services in Arizona and other states to patients covered by the EEOICPA. According to the complaint, between January 2017 and December 2021, the company “provided” home healthcare to EEOICP patients by telephone in lieu of sending qualified medical personnel to patients’ homes. Atlantic Home Health Care then billed the EEOICP program for in-person home care in violation of the federal False Claims Act.
The whistleblower lawsuit also alleges the company submitted healthcare claims they did not provide, utilized unqualified people to perform medical care, and paid kickbacks to family members of the patients to agree to keep the patients with Atlantic Home Health Care.
“Atlantic Home Health Care exploited one of the unique benefits the EEOICP program specifically provided – necessary healthcare provided at home,” said Amy Easton, a partner and whistleblower attorney with Phillips & Cohen. “The absence of this medical care is much more than a fraudulent billing problem – it’s a medical problem because it deprived the patient of necessary medical care.”
“Because of their contributions or proximity to national defense efforts, these patients developed conditions that required in-home care,” said Jeffrey Dickstein, a partner and whistleblower attorney with Phillips & Cohen. “Instead, they received telephone monitoring.”
Impact and Response from Legal and Whistleblower Community
The whistleblower was employed by Haven Home Health and its predecessor, Victory Medical Solutions. Atlantic Home Health Care, LLC is also known as Haven Home Health, LLC. It is allegedly owned, managed and/or controlled by Kirk Tjalas, Jamin Roark, and Kevin Roark.
The whistleblower and her counsel thank and commend Trial Attorney Allie Pang of the Department of Justice Civil Fraud Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Nelson in the District of Arizona for their work in the investigation and resolution of this case.
Record-Breaking SEC Penalties and Actions in 2023
Phillips & Cohen is the most successful law firm representing whistleblowers, with recoveries from our cases totaling over $13 billion. Phillips & Cohen’s roster includes former federal prosecutors, the first head of the SEC Office of the Whistleblower, the former director of the CFTC’s Whistleblower Office, a former deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the author of a leading treatise on the False Claims Act and attorneys with decades of experience representing whistleblowers. Contact us.