LA County investigates kickback complaints

Los Angeles County is investigating three hospital employees to determine if they accepted gifts in exchange for referring Medicare and Medi-Cal patients to certain nursing homes.

Department of Health Services spokesman Michael Watson says the investigation at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center is incomplete.

The Los Angeles Times talked to Olive View employees who said the gifts included Cirque du Soleil tickets, gift cards and a gift basket. The employees told the Times one co-worker bragged she received $100 in gifts for each Medicare patient she referred.

Giving or receiving gifts for referring patients covered by Medicare is a federal felony punishable by up to five years in prison and $25,000 in fines.

Convictions under state law carry up to three years in prison or $50,000 in fines.