Kudos to the Massachusetts jurors who brought in a guilty verdict against Michael Galatis, 63, the owner of a home nursing agency who fraudulently billed Medicare for millions of dollars and then laundered his illegal windfall. The jury also ruled that Galatis’ $750,000 home in Natick, Massachusetts, can be forfeited because it was paid for with proceeds from a fraud.
Galatis is a registered nurse. He owned At Home VNA in Waltham. The Medicare program pays for home health services under certain conditions. From 2006 to 2012, Galatis and his business submitted more than $27 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare. The agency paid out more than $20 million on those claims.
Manipulated assessment forms
At Home nurses were trained to recruit older patients on Medicare who lived in large apartment buildings. The company held “wellness clinics” at the buildings where nurses urged senior citizens to enroll with At Home and have a nurse visit them. Galatis and his cohorts manipulated the patients’ Medicare assessment forms to make it appear that the patients qualified for Medicare home health services, when that was often not true. The documents were signed by At Home’s paid medical director, Dr. Spencer Wilking, who has separately pleaded guilty to health care fraud.
The elderly patients’ primary care physicians were not told that At Home was sending nurses to visit their patients in their homes. Several primary care physicians complained to Galatis and asked him to stop seeing the patients, but he ignored the complaints. Some At Home nurses asked Galatis if they could stop seeing patients who did not need home health services, but Galatis also refused these requests.
Patients were not examined
Medicare requires that a physician certify that she or he had a face-to-face meeting with the patient about home health care. Galatis billed Medicare for millions of dollars of home health care based on signed orders by Dr. Wilking even though the patients were not examined.
Oh yeah, the house. After buying the place, Galatis paid down the mortgage in increments ranging from $50,000 to more than $100,000 until he owned it free and clear. The jury also found that $50,000 held in two bank accounts is forfeitable.
Galatis and others involved in this scam face long prison sentences, fines, and restitution payment. They deserve severe punishment for stealing from you and me.