The California Attorney General (A.G.) announced a $3.8 million settlement in a case against Alta Vista Healthcare and Wellness Center for illegally paying doctors to send hospital patients to the facility from 2009-2019. Alta Vista is owned by Shlomo Rechnitz, operated by Rockport Healthcare Services, and part of the second largest nursing home chain in California. According to the A.G. allegations, “Rockport and Alta Vista paid illegal kickbacks, in the form of cash, gifts, and salaries, to certain Riverside-area doctors to induce them to refer Medi-Cal and Medicare beneficiaries to Alta Vista.” The case was brought jointly by the A.G. and U.S. Department of Justice
This is not the first time Rechnitz-owned facilities have settled a case involving illegal resident referral kickbacks. In 2017, four Rechnitz-owned San Diego nursing homes settled a similar case for $6.9 million.
Despite the settlement, the state Department of Public Health nonetheless approved Rechnitz’s application to oversee 24 more nursing homes. The license applications had been pending for nine years and several of them had previously been denied but the Department went ahead and agreed to approve them in a recently executed “settlement agreement.” The state’s approval, with only very modest conditions, is wildly disappointing for nursing home residents, sending a message that poor performing nursing home operators have a safe haven in California.