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August 30, 2022

Medical device manufacturer Philips North America has agreed to pay $4.2 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by falsely certifying that mobile patient monitoring devices it sold to military purchasers met standards for airworthiness and passed safe-to-fly testing required to ensure that medical devices can safely be used in aircraft.  As part of the settlement, Philips admitted that after receiving initial approval in 2008, it made modifications to the device but did not inform government purchasers of those modifications, so that a determination could be made if re-testing was required.  USAO MA

August 30, 2022

Vision Quest Industries, Inc., which manufactures knee braces and other durable medical equipment, has agreed to pay $2.25 million to resolve claims that it violated the Anti-Kickback Statute by paying commissions to an independent sales representative based on VQ’s net revenue for each knee brace ordered by a particular purchaser which then, in turn, submitted claims for payment to Medicare.  The settlement with VQ follows earlier settlements in 2020 and 2019USAO MN

August 24, 2022

Centene will pay Washington State $19 million to resolve allegations that the company overcharged the state for pharmacy benefit management services.  The state alleged that Centene failed to pass on discounts it received to the state Medicaid program, and inflated dispensing fees.  WA

August 23, 2022

Texas-based Cockerell Dermatopathology (CDP) has agreed to pay $3.75 million to resolve allegations of allowing millions of dollars in fraudulent claims to be submitted to TRICARE, in violation of the False Claims Act.  According to a government suit, CDP’s principal physician, Dr. Clay Cockerell, had allowed laboratory management company Progen to use its license to submit false claims for medically unnecessary tests in exchange for a twenty percent cut of the proceeds.  USAO NDTX

August 23, 2022

Essilor International and related subsidiaries, which manufacture, market, and distribute optical lenses and equipment to produce optical lenses—have agreed to pay $22 million to resolve federal and state allegations of defrauding Medicare and Medicaid.  In two separate qui tam suits, former sales managers Laura Thompson and Lisa Brez, and Christie Rudolph alleged that Essilor violated the Anti-Kickback Statute and False Claims Act by paying illegal kickbacks to optometrists and opthalmologists to induce purchases of their products for patients, including patients covered by Medicare and Medicaid.  $5.6 million of the total settlement was allocated between states that were parties to the settlements, and $16.4 million to the federal government. DOJ; USAO EDPA; USAO NDTX; CO; CT; SD (see later CA settlement)

August 18, 2022

The organized healthcare system for Ventura County, as well as three healthcare providers, have agreed to pay a combined total of $70.7 million to resolve allegations of violating the California and federal False Claims Acts in connection with Medi-Cal’s Adult Expansion program, which extended coverage to previously uninsured adults without dependents.  Gold Coast Health Plan, Dignity Health, Clinicas del Camino Real, Inc., and Ventura County (the owner and operator of Ventura County Medical Center) allegedly submitted, or caused to be submitted, bills for unallowed expenses, bills for “Additional Services” that were duplicative of services already required, and bills with pre-determined costs that weren’t reflective of fair market value.  CA AG; USAO CDCA

August 11, 2022

Spivack, Inc., formerly operating as Verree Pharmacy, and owner-pharmacist Mitchell Spivack, have agreed to pay over $4.1 million in civil penalties for dispensing opioids despite numerous red flags the drugs were being diverted—all in violation of the False Claims Act and the Controlled Substances Act. In furtherance of the fraud, Spivack made false statements to drug distributors to maintain the façade of legitimacy, while concurrently drawing millions from the pharmacy and harming the public. In addition to their opioid fraud, Spivack and Verree effectuated their “Bill But Don’t Fill” scheme, where they would enter “BBDF” in their internal computer system, and would submit false claims to insurers for drugs not actually dispensed. USAO EDPA

August 10, 2022

American Senior Communities, L.L.C., will pay over $5.5 million for violating the False Claims Act by charging Medicare directly for hospice services that should have already been covered by the beneficiaries’ Medicare hospice coverage. The fraudulent billing practice was exposed in a whistleblower complaint filed by a former employee of a hospice services provider that worked with ASC. The whistleblower is entitled to receive between 15 and 25% of the recovery. USAO SDIN

August 5, 2022

Gonzaga Interventional Pain Management, Melvin Gonzaga, M.D., and his son Rommel Gonzaga will pay $980,000 for violating the False Claims Act by submitting claims for medically unnecessary urine drug tests. GIPM required patients to submit a UDT sample before being seen by a provider and discussing the results from any prior UDT the patient received. Regardless of the patients’ individualized testing needs, GIPM always opted for the more complex “definitive” UDT rather than the lower-level “presumptive” UDT, netting a higher reimbursement rate from the US government. USAO MD
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