Vacaville skilled nursing owner to pay nearly $46M for alleged kickbacks

A Vacaville-based skilled nursing facility management company, its owner and six facilities have agreed to pay nearly $46 million to resolve allegations that they submitted false claims to Medicare by paying kickbacks to doctors, the U.S. Attorney's Office for Central California announced this month.     

Paksn Inc., based in Vacaville in Solano County, and its owner, Prema Thekkek, and six skilled nursing facilities under her umbrella allegedly violated the Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits paying doctors to refer items or services covered by Medicare, prosecutors said.     

From 2009 to 2021, the six facilities, under the direction of Thekkek and Paksn, took on medical directorships with physicians that purported to provide compensation for administrative services, but in reality were ways to pay kickbacks to doctors who referred patients to the six sites, prosecutors allege.     

"Specifically, the defendants hired physicians who promised in advance to refer a large number of patients to the SNFs, paid physicians in proportion to the number of their expected referrals and terminated physicians who did not refer enough patients," said prosecutors.     

The U.S. Attorney's Office said it has multiple examples of Thekkek discussing the need for their physicians to "give us patients."     

Kickbacks can impair the independence of physician decision-making and waste taxpayer dollars," said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton.   

In addition to entering into a $45,645,327 consent judgment, the defendants will make payments of $385,000 over the next five years--a deal struck due to the defendants' inability to pay, according to prosecutors. They will also be required to undergo regular review of their physician relationships.     

The whole case stems from a whistleblower complaint filed in 2015 by a former vice president at Paksn.   

The six skilled-nursing facilities include five in Hayward, such as Kayal Inc, doing business as Bay Point Healthcare Center; Nadhi Inc, doing business as Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center; Oakrheem Inc., doing business as Hayward Convalescent Hospital, and Hilltop Care and Rehabilitation Center, under Bayview Inc. 

A Yuba City SNF rounds out the six, with Nasaky Inc, doing business as Yuba Skilled Nursing Center.