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September 3, 2021

A number of South Carolina pain management clinics, drug testing laboratories and other entities associated with chiropractor Daniel McCollum have had default judgments entered against them ordering the payment of $140 million.  The defendant entities, Oaktree Medical Centre P.C., FirstChoice Healthcare P.C., Labsource LLC, Pain Management Associates entities, ProLab LLC, and ProCare Counseling Center LLC, were alleged to have provided illegal financial incentives to providers to induce their referrals of urine drug tests in violation of the Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute, and to have submitted false claims to federal healthcare programs for medically unnecessary urine drug testing, steroid injections, opioid prescriptions, and lidocaine ointment prescriptions.  The settlement resolves claims against the entities brought in three separate qui tam actions Donna Rauch, Muriel Calhoun, Brandy Knight, Karen Mathewson and Tracy Hawkins, former employees of pain management clinics owned or operated by McCollum. The government continues to pursue claims against McCollum.  DOJ; USAO SC

August 30, 2021

Northern California healthcare provider Sutter Health and its affiliated entities will pay $90 million to resolve a False Claims Act case initially filed by whistleblower Kathy Ormsby alleging that defendants submitted unsupported diagnosis codes for patients enrolled in Medicare Advantage.  Sutter contracts with Medicare Advantage Organizations to provide care to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries enrolled in their plans, and allegedly caused those MAOs to submit to Medicare inaccurate and invalid diagnosis codes that inflated the risk scores of those beneficiaries and were not supported by the medical records, thereby resulting in overpayments by CMS.  Sutter also allegedly failed to take sufficient corrective action when it became aware of the submission of these unsupported diagnosis codes.  Sutter also entered into a five-year corporate integrity agreement.  Sutter previously entered into a partial settlement of $30 million, which will be credited against the $90 million total settlement.  DOJ; USAO ND Cal

August 27, 2021

John Peter Smith Hospital (JPS) in Texas has agreed to pay more than $3.3 million to resolve a qui tam suit filed by its former Director of Compliance, Erma Lee, which alleged that the hospital routinely applied billing modifiers that essentially double-billed federal healthcare programs for certain aspects of patients’ care.  Even after raising the issue internally, JPS allegedly failed to reimburse payors, prompting Lee to file the case in 2018.  For doing so, Lee will receive over $900,000 of the settlement proceeds.  USAO NDTX

August 26, 2021

Mental health and addiction services provider Connections Community Support Programs, Inc. has consented to the entry of judgment ordering payment of $15.3 million to resolve claims that it billed federal healthcare programs for mental health services performed by individuals without required professional qualification, billed using incorrect procedure codes, and failed to keep proper records regarding controlled substances.  Connections has filed for bankruptcy, and the government recovery will be limited by the availability of funds in the bankruptcy estate.  The settlement resolves claims brought in a qui tam lawsuit by two former Connections employees.  USAO Del

August 25, 2021

A California-based provider of home respiratory services and durable medical equipment has agreed to pay $3.3 million to the United States and States of California and Nevada to settle allegations of defrauding Medicare and Medicaid.  The claims against SuperCare Health, Inc. were brought in a 2018 qui tam suit by respiratory therapist Benjamin Martinez, who alleged that the provider billed for non-invasive ventilators (NIVs) that were no longer needed or being used by patients.  CA AG; USAO CDCA

August 19, 2021

Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists agreed to pay $1 million to resolve allegations that it submitted false claims for confirmatory urine drug testing performed without regard to the results of presumptive tests that had been performed. The allegations were first brought in a qui tam lawsuit filed by an whistleblower Omni Healthcare, Inc., which will receive a relator’s share of $150,000 of the settlement.  USAO MA

July 23, 2021

Alabama non-profit SpectraCare Health Systems, Inc., which provides services including developmental disability services, intermediate care medical services, and behavioral health services, agreed to pay $1 million to resolve claims first brought in a whistleblower action alleging that the provider improperly billed Alabama Medicaid and failed to return overpayments to the Alabama Medicaid Agency.  The defendant was alleged to have submitted false claims including claims without correct and complete documentation, and duplicate claims, and to have knowingly retained payments it received to which it was not entitled.  The settlement will be split between the federal government and the Alabama Medicaid Agency, with the whistleblower receiving 19% of the federal recovery.  USAO MD AL

July 20, 2021

Rheumatologist Enrico Arguelles and his practice, Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center of Billings, Montana, agreed to pay $1.27 million and relinquish Medicare claims for $802,000 in settlement of claims that they improperly billed for MRI scans and patient visits, and billed for biologic infusions such as Remicade where the treatment was not medically necessary.  USAO MT

July 19, 2021

Prime Healthcare Services, one of the largest hospital systems in the nation, its founder and CEO Dr. Prem Reddy, and interventional cardiologist Dr. Siva Arunasalam have agreed to pay $37.5 million to resolve two suits filed by former executive Martin Mansukhani, and former employees Marsha Arnold and Joseph Hill.  In violation of the federal and California False Claims Acts, certain Prime hospitals had allegedly submitted inflated invoices to Medi-Cal and other government health programs, or submitted claims to Medi-Cal and Medicare under Arunasalam’s provider number for services provided by an excluded physician.  Additionally, in acquiring Arunasalam’s physician practice and surgery center, Prime allegedly paid above fair market value for referrals from Arunasalam to one of their hospitals.  For being the first to file, one of the whistleblowers, Mansukhani, will receive a relator’s share of nearly $10 million.  CA AG; USAO CDCA

July 16, 2021

Florida Neurological Center, LLC and its owner Dr. Lance Kim have agreed to settle a whistleblower-brought suit and pay $800,000 to resolve allegations of defrauding Medicare.  The qui tam suit by Michael Singbush, Andrea Herrera, and Harvey Kessler Meyer, IV alleged that Dr. Kim prescribed medically unnecessary prescription drugs, which cost Medicare $35,000 each time it was prescribed.  For their role in the successful enforcement action, the whistleblowers will share in a $144,000 award.  USAO MDFL
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