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November 16, 2020

Seattle’s Group Health Cooperative, now part of Kaiser, will pay $6.375 million to settle allegations in a whistleblower suit that it falsely reported unsupported diagnosis codes to Medicare in order to receive inflated payments.  The suit alleges that GHC utilized the services of a coding review company, DxID, that proposed unsupported diagnosis codes, which GHC knowingly submitted to CMS as part of seeking higher payment for the affected Medicare Advantage beneficiaries.  Whistleblower Teresa Ross, represented by Constantine Cannon, will receive approximately $1.5 million.  DOJ

September 3, 2020

Two affiliates of Independence Blue Cross, Keystone Health Plan East, Inc. and QCC Insurance Company, Inc., which offer Part C Medicare Advantage plans, agreed to pay $2.25 million to resolve allegations that they overstated their costs when they submitted bids to CMS for contract years 2009 and 2010.  As a result, CMS reimbursed them at at an inflated rate.  The matter was initiated by the filing a qui tam complaint under the False Claims act by Eric Johnson, who will receive $500,000 from the recovery.  USAO EDPA

April 12, 2019

California-based Sutter Health LLC and its affiliated medical foundations will pay $30 million to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act that they submitted unsupported diagnosis codes for certain patients, thereby inflating the the risk scores for those patients.  These inflated risk scores increased Medicare Advantage payments to Medicare Advantage Organizations with whom Sutter contracted.  Sutter's contracts with the MAOs gave Sutter a share of those improper increased payments.  DOJ; USAO ND Cal

October 1, 2018

HealthCare Partners Holdings LLC, a DaVita entity, will pay $270 million to settle allegations arising from DaVita's collection and submission of diagnosis data for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries to whom DaVita provided healthcare services.  HealthCare Partners, an independent physician association, allegedly instituted practices that caused the submission of incorrect diagnosis codes - diagnosis codes that increased payments from CMS to the MAOs, and then from the MAOs to DaVita/HealthCare Partners.  DaVita had voluntarily disclosed some practices, including improper medical coding guidance provided to physicians.  In addition, a whistleblower, James Swoben, alleged in a False Claims Act qui tam case that HealthCare Partners had engaged in improper "one-way chart reviews," which added diagnosis codes identified from the review of patient charts, but did not delete previously-submitted diagnosis codes that were not supported by the patient charts. Swoben will receive a whistleblower reward of $10,199,100. DOJ

March 28, 2018

CenterLight Healthcare, Inc. agreed to pay $10 million to settle claims of violating the False Claims Act for collecting monthly Medicaid payments for 186 adult home residents who frequently did not receive required services while enrolled in Centerlight’s managed long-term care plan. In connection with the filing of the lawsuit and settlement, the Government had previously joined and settled a private whistleblower lawsuit filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. In that case, Centerlight agreed to pay $46.7 million to settle claims of violating the False Claims Act by using social adult day care centers to enroll ineligible members in Centerlight’s managed long-term care plan. DOJ (SDNY)

November 22, 2017

Thaddeus M.S. Bereday, the former general counsel of WellCare Health Plans Inc., a company that operates health maintenance organizations in several states, was sentenced to six months in prison for his role in a $35 million health care fraud scheme.  Specifically, Bereday and others were charged with submitting inflated expenditure information in the WellCare's annual reports to Florida Medicaid in order to reduce the WellCare HMOs’ contractual payback obligations for behavioral health care services.  DOJ

May 30, 2017

Florida-based managed care service provider Freedom Health Inc. agreed to pay roughly $32 million to settle charges it violated the False Claims Act by engaging in illegal schemes to maximize its Medicare Advantage plan payments from the government.  The allegations originated in a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act by former Freedom Health employee and Constantine Cannon client Darren D. Sewell.  He will receive a yet-to-be-determine whistleblower award from the proceeds of the government's recovery.  Whistleblower Insider

June 7, 2017

New York announced that Kester Atumonyogo, of Valley Stream, NY, and his company Monack Medical Supply, Inc. were arraigned on an indictment charging Atumonyogo and Monack with billing Medicaid and Healthfirst, a Medicaid managed care organization, for an expensive nutritional formula while supplying patients with a lower-priced substitute and stealing over $1 million in the process. Atumonyogo, 49, was arraigned in New York Supreme Court, Kings County, by the Honorable Danny K. Chun. According to the indictment, Atumonyogo used a fraudulent social security number to enroll Monack as a Medicaid-participating provider of medical supplies. The company then allegedly filed false claims to Medicaid and Healthfirst that Monack had dispensed to pediatric patients a highly specialized and expensive enteral nutritional formula, which is prescribed by physicians for patients who must obtain nutrients via a feeding tube and cannot metabolize dietary nutrients from substantive food. NY

February 25, 2017

New York announced the arrest of Kester Atumonyogo, 43, of Valley Stream, N.Y., and his company Monack Medical Supply, Inc. (“Monack”) for allegedly stealing over $1.5 million from Medicaid and Healthfirst, a Medicaid managed care organization. The defendants are accused of using a false Social Security number to enroll Monack as a participating medical supply provider in Medicaid. Thereafter, the company allegedly filed false claims that misrepresented to Medicaid and Healthfirst that Monack dispensed a highly specialized, expensive enteral, nutritional formula to needy pediatric patients. Enteral nutritional formulas are prescribed by physicians for patients who must obtain nutrients via a feeding tube and cannot metabolize dietary nutrients from substantive food. The Medicaid reimbursement rate for specialized enteral, nutritional formula is substantially higher than off-the-shelf or over-the-counter nutritional supplements. The Attorney General’s investigation conducted by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) revealed that Medicaid and Healthfirst, relying on Monack’s false claims, paid Monack for specialized enteral, nutritional formula, but that Monack only dispensed “Pediasure” or similar over-the-counter nutritional supplements to Medicaid patients, when it dispensed anything at all. NY

August 24, 2016

New York and the Justice Department announced that three hospitals in the Mount Sinai Health System are paying a total of $2.95 million to resolve allegations that the hospitals knowingly retained over $844,000 in overpayments made by Medicaid in violation of the federal and New York False Claims Acts. Knowing retention of an overpayment from the government for more than sixty days is known as a “reverse false claim” and is a violation of both federal and state false claim acts. The entities involved include Mount Sinai Beth Israel (“Beth Israel”) (formerly Beth Israel Medical Center), Mount Sinai St. Luke’s (“St. Luke’s”) (formerly St. Luke’s Hospital) and Mount Sinai Roosevelt (“Roosevelt”) (formerly Roosevelt Hospital) (together, the “Hospitals”) – and the Hospitals’ former partnership group, Continuum Health Partners, Inc. (“Continuum,” and together with the Hospitals, “Defendants”). As part of the settlements, Defendants admitted that, beginning in 2009 due to a software compatibility issue, a coding error caused Defendants to submit claims for payment above and beyond what they had received from the managed care organization, and that Medicaid paid these claims as a secondary payor. In September 2010, the New York Office of the State Comptroller brought to Continuum’s attention a small number of these claims, and Defendants admitted that in late 2010 they were made aware of the coding error. NY
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