Robert J. Mills has no apologies for the way he and his wife have run their nationwide medical empire, Bruns-wick, Ga.-based ABC Home Health Services.
The company is the target of a federal grand jury probe in Savannah, Ga., which is looking into allegations of Medicare and Medicaid fraud.
In three years, ABC has grown to 400 offices from 87 and has doubled to 20 the number of states in which it operates.
Last year, Medicare paid ABC $330 million, covering 95% of its in-home nursing visits.
Those numbers drew attention from officials and news organizations.
"The problem we've got with the politicians and the reporters is they think of this as taxpayers' money. I don't believe that," Mr. Mills said. "When my nurse walks out of that house, we've earned that money. That money belongs to ABC."
While the company recently received favorable publicity as the fastest-growing private enterprise in Georgia, with 60% revenue growth in a single year, ABC's future is uncertain.
"It should be noted that ABC is an aggressive provider and is difficult to deal with....Anyone who opposes ABC is subject to personal attack," a regional Medicare official, William R. Lyons, wrote in a memo last year. The document is part of the evidence in one of the company's many court cases against government agencies.
Mr. Mills fiercely defends the company. "I don't think I need to apologize for that" is a staple of his vocabulary.
He uses the statement when referring to his $2 million island mansion and to his aggressive pursuit of funds from Medicare.
Regulators looking at the company have centered on the confusing corporate structure of its Atlanta operations.
State inspectors say ABC is trying to milk extra money out of the government by maintaining two shell companies-one that has the Medicare and Medicaid licenses, and one that has all the employees. Medicare regulations say those must be a single company, according to a memo from the state Department of Human Resources.
Despite the company's many squabbles over payments, the quality of care provided by ABC is rarely questioned. ABC is the only home health chain to have all its agencies accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. The seal of approval demands a steep annual fee and added inspections.