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August 9, 2021

The owners of North Carolina compounding pharmacy Wellcare Compouding, David Tsui and Lois Tsui, paid $1.1 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by submitting false claims for payment to the TRICARE program in 2014 and 2015.  The government alleged that Wellcare made improper payments to physicians and “marketers” in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and encouraged medically unnecessary prescriptions consisting of high-margin ingredients in order to maximize the pharmacy’s reimbursement. David Tsui had been convicted of healthcare fraud in 2009 and was excluded from participation in federal healthcare programs; the government alleged that his involvement and ownership was intentionally concealed.  USAO MD NC

August 6, 2021

A county in California and a county medical center have agreed to pay $11.4 million to resolve allegations of improperly billing a federal healthcare program between 2013 and 2017.  According to whistleblower Felix Levy, a former employee of San Mateo County Medical Center (SMMC), San Mateo County and SMMC billed Medicare for uncovered hospital stays for patients that were admitted without regard to medical necessity.  USAO NDCA

August 5, 2021

Ascension Michigan and related hospitals, which allegedly billed federal healthcare programs for services performed by a gynecologic oncologist that were not medically necessary or rendered as represented, has agreed to pay $2.8 million to resolve their liability under the False Claims Act.  The settlement resolves claims from a 2017 qui tam suit by whistleblowers Pamela Satchwell, Dawn Kasdorf, and Bethany Silva-Gomez, that Ascension knowingly submitted claims for medically unnecessary hysterectomies and chemotherapy, and unrendered evaluation and management services.  Spurred by patient complaints, Ascension launched an internal investigation, ultimately self-disclosing the misconduct to the government in 2018.  As part of the settlement, Satchwell, Kasdorf, and Silva-Gomez will share in a $532,000 award.  USAO EDMI

August 2, 2021

Diabetic testing supply company Arriva Medical LLC and its parent company Alere Inc. will pay $160 million to resolve claims first brought in a whistleblower case alleging that Arriva provided unlawful patient inducements in the form of “free” or “no cost” glucometers and copayment waivers.  Defendants were alleged to have systematically provided all new patients with glucometers, and billed Medicare for those meters, although Medicare beneficiaries are only eligible for a new meter once every five years.  In addition, Arriva was alleged to have billed Medicare for deceased beneficiaries.  The whistleblower, Gregory Goodman, who was an employee at an Arriva call center, will receive a whistleblower award of $28.5 million.  Executives at Arriva previously agreed to a settlement of claims against them.  DOJ; USAO MD Tenn

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 23, 2021

California-based Interface Rehab has agreed to pay $2 million to settle claims arising from a qui tam suit by its former director of rehab, Keith Pennetti.  According to Pennetti, Interface violated the False Claims Act when it pressured its therapists to increase the amount of therapy provided to Medicare Part A residents at eleven facilities, with no regard to medical necessity, and caused false claims to be submitted to Medicare.  For instigating the action, Pennetti will receive $360,000 of the settlement proceeds.  USAO CDCA

July 22, 2021

Medical laboratory Bluewater Toxicology, LLC, agreed to pay $1.2 million following its self-report of overbilling for urine drug testing services.  In billing Medicare, Kentucky Medicaid, Indiana Medicaid, TRICARE, and CHAMPVA, Bluewater was alleged to have submitted false claims that misrepresented the number of drugs tested in definitive urine drug tests, that lacked sufficient documentation, or that were for specimen validity testing that is not separately billable to Medicare.  USAO ED KY

July 21, 2021

Alliance Family of Companies LLC, a national electroencephalography testing company, and Ancor Holdings LP, a private insurance company, have agreed to pay a combined $15.3 million to resolve alleged violations of the False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statute.  According to a number of whistleblowers, Alliance provided free electroencephalography (EEG) interpretation reports to induce physician orders, caused physicians to submit false claims to the government, used inaccurate billing codes to generate higher reimbursements, and billed for a specialized digital analysis that it didn’t actually perform.  The whistleblowers also alleged that while performing due diligence prior to investing in Alliance, Ancor learned of the kickbacks but allowed them to continue after the change in management.  Two of the whistlebl­owers involved will share a reward of nearly $3 million.  DOJ

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
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