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Laboratory and IDTF

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March 23, 2016

Pennsylvania-based Respironics Inc. agreed to pay $34.8 million to resolve charges it violated the False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statute by paying kickbacks in the form of free call center services to durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers that bought its masks for patients with sleep apnea.  Respironics allegedly provided DME companies with call center services to meet their patients’ resupply needs at no charge as long as the patients were using masks that Respironics manufactured; otherwise, the DME companies would have to pay a monthly fee based on the number of patients who used masks manufactured by a competitor of Respironics.  The allegations originated in a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act by Dr. Gibran Ameer, who has worked for different DME companies.  He will receive a whistleblower award of $5.38 million from the proceeds of the government's recovery.  DOJ

March 9, 2016

Florida arrested a couple for defrauding the Medicaid program out of more than $180,000 in fraudulent claims. Oscar Alzate, 48, and Alba Garcia, 48, owners of Digital Radiology Center, Inc. and Medisound, Inc., allegedly operated a clinic without the appropriate licensure or proper oversight by a physician as required by Florida law. The investigation revealed that Alzate and his partner Garcia, neither who are physicians, billed the Medicaid program for services never rendered. The clinic owners also allegedly forged physicians’ signatures on medical reports and provided defective mammography services. FL

Sleep Disorder Fraud: With the uptick in sleep disorder services and government spending comes the discovery of schemes and scams.

Posted  01/26/16
By Jessica Moore, published in ADVANCE Healthcare Network  Increasing numbers of troubled sleepers are seeking diagnosis and treatment of chronic sleep disorders that affect more than fifty million Americans.  The significant growth in sleep medicine over recent years brings increasing opportunities for the unscrupulous to engage in fraudulent services and billing of federal and state heath care programs that...

January 12, 2016

Connecticut-based J&L Medical Services agreed to pay $600,000 to resolve allegations it violated the federal and state False Claims Acts.  J&L Medical is a durable medical equipment company that provides Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) and Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) devices and accessories to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea.  According to the government, the company regularly used the services of unlicensed technicians to provide respiratory therapy services to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, including setting up CPAP and BiPAP machines, fitting the patients with the masks used with those machines, and educating the patients about the use of the machines.  The allegations originated in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by John Hart, a former employee of J&L Medical and a licensed respiratory therapist, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.  He will receive a whistleblower award of $102,000 from the proceeds of the government’s recovery.  DOJ (CT)

January 8, 2016

Dr. David G. Bostwick, owner of Virginia-based pathology lab Bostwick Laboratories Inc., agreed to pay up to $3.75 million to resolve charges of violating the False Claims Act for billing Medicare and Medicaid for medically unnecessary cancer detection tests and offering incentives to physicians to obtain Medicare and Medicaid business.  Specifically, Dr. Bostwick allegedly directed Bostwick Laboratories to bill Medicare and Medicaid for expensive cancer detection tests known as Fluorescent In Situ Hybridization (FISH) tests, as well as other tests, that were not medically necessary and were performed without the treating physicians’ consent or order.  FISH tests are used to detect bladder cancer.  Bostwick also allegedly offered various discounts and billing arrangements to treating physicians to induce them to refer business in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute.  On Aug. 28, 2014, Bostwick Laboratories previously agreed to pay over $6.5 million to resolve the allegations in this lawsuit.  The allegations were originally raised in a whistleblower lawsuit brought by Michael Daugherty, who works in the industry, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.  Daugherty will receive a whistleblower award of over $2.5 million from the government’s settlements.  DOJ

January 4, 2016

Hovik Simitian, the former owner and operator of three medical clinics located in Los Angeles — Columbia Medical Group Inc., Life Care Medical Clinic and Safe Health Medical Clinic — was sentenced to 78 months in prison for his role in submitting more than $4.5 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.  Simitian admitted paying illegal cash kickbacks to patient recruiters who brought Medicare beneficiaries to the clinics and for billing Medicare for lab tests and other services that were not medically necessary or actually provided, which he supported with false documentation.  DOJ

December 22, 2015

A physician’s assistant was sentenced to prison, and a doctor admitted taking bribes in connection with a long-running test referral scheme operated by New Jersey-based Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC, its president and numerous associates.  Leonard Marchetta was sentenced to 42 months in prison and Bret Ostrager pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Federal Travel Act by accepting bribes.  They are two of the 39 people – 26 of them doctors – who have pleaded guilty in connection with the bribery scheme, which have involved millions of dollars in bribes and resulted in more than $100 million in payments to BLS from Medicare and various private insurance companies.  It is believed to be the largest number of medical professionals ever prosecuted in a bribery case.  The investigation has to date recovered more than $12 million through forfeiture. DOJ (DNJ)

December 18, 2015

21st Century Oncology, a Florida-based provider of integrated cancer care services, agreed to pay $19.75 million to resolve allegations it violated the False Claims Act by billing federal health care programs for laboratory tests that were not medically necessary.  The tests involved were fluorescence in situ hybridization (or “FISH”) tests which are laboratory tests performed on urine that can detect genetic abnormalities associated with bladder cancer.  The government alleged that 21st Century submitted claims for unnecessary FISH tests that were ordered by four of its urologists, Dr. Meir Daller, Dr. Steven Paletsky, Dr. David Spellberg and Dr. Robert Scappa.  The government further alleged the company encouraged these physicians to order unnecessary FISH tests by offering bonuses that were based in part on the number of tests referred to 21st Century’s laboratory.  The allegations first arose in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former 21st Century medical assistant under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.  The whistleblower will receive a whistleblower award of $3.2 million from the proceeds of the government’s recovery.  DOJ

December 1, 2015

Wisconsin-based Pharmasan Labs, Inc., its related billing company NeuroScience, Inc. and their founders, Gottfried and Mieke Kellermann, agreed to pay $8.5 million to resolve charges they violated the False Claims Act by (i) submitting false information for laboratory services, and (ii) violating Medicare rules for services referred by non-physician practitioners.  According to the government, and as admitted by Pharmasan under the settlement, Pharmasan falsely billed Medicare for ineligible food sensitivity testing; knew Medicare prohibited payment for such testing; and submitted false information to Medicare to disguise the type of test it was performing so Medicare would cover it.  Pharmasan also admitted violating Medicare billing rules which bar payment for lab services referred by non-physicians.  The government investigation leading to the settlement originated from a whistleblower action filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.  The whistleblower will receive a whistleblower award of roughly $1.1 million from the government’s recovery.  Whistleblower Insider
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