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Medical Billing Fraud

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March 13, 2020

Dr. Thi Thien Nguyen Tran and Village Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, LLC, have agreed to pay $1.74 million to settle claims of submitting false and inflated claims to Medicare.  From 2011 to 2016, defendants billed and caused Medicare to pay for lower-level wound repairs as if they were more complex adjacent tissue transfers.  The misconduct was eventually exposed by whistleblowers Dr. Robert Green and Emily Kennedy, who will share in a $305,000 award.  USAO MDFL

March 11, 2020

The organizer of a $2 million multi-state Medicaid fraud scheme has been sentenced to 11 years in prison and ordered to pay $2.5 million in restitution.  Along with two other co-defendants, Matthew Harrell fraudulently obtained the Medicaid provider number of mental health service providers in Georgia and Florida, as well as the Medicaid member numbers of children in foster care, welfare, and other programs in Louisiana.  Using companies purporting to be mental health providers, the defendants then submitted $3.5 million in false claims and received $2.5 million in reimbursements. Harrell's co-defendants, Nikki Richardson and Tomeka Howard, have also been ordered to serve time and pay restitution.  USAO NDGA

“Objective Falsity” Is Not Required Under the False Claims Act: A Legally False Opinion May Suffice

Posted  03/6/20
Gavel close-up
In a significant win for whistleblowers, a federal appellate court held this week that, in order to determine liability under the False Claims Act, a whistleblower need not prove that a claim is “objectively” false.  Instead, the Court held that, consistent with common law, a claim can be false under the FCA if based not on objectively verifiable facts, but on non-compliance with statutory or regulatory...

March 2, 2020

The owners and operators of Middlesex Rheumatology in Connecticut, Dr. Crispin Abarientos and his wife Dr. Antonieta Abarientos, have agreed to pay $4.9 million to settle allegations of violating federal and state False Claims Act.  Between 2013 to 2017, the Abarientos allegedly billed Medicaid for an injectable prescription drug called Remicade, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, but then failed to administer the drugs on Medicaid patients.  Instead, they administered them on patients covered by Medicare or the Connecticut State Employees Health Plan, then billed the two providers for the drugs again even though the cost had already been covered by Medicaid.  USAO CT

Treble Damages Awarded in Medicare Whistleblower Case

Posted  02/21/20
specimen jar
The Fifth Circuit upheld a 2018 lower court decision this week, finding defendant BestCare Laboratory Services, LLC and its owner Karim Maghareh liable for treble damages—to the tune of just over $30 million—under the False Claims Act. BestCare provided clinical testing services for nursing home residents, many of whom were Medicare beneficiaries. Rather than billing for a technician’s travel to and from the...

Catch of the Week: Guardian Elder Care

Posted  02/21/20
person holding elder's hand
This week's DOJ Catch of the Week goes to Guardian Elder Care.  On Wednesday, the operator of more than 50 nursing homes in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia agreed to pay roughly $15.5 million to resolve allegations it violated the False Claims Act by billing the government -- Medicare and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program -- for medically unnecessary rehabilitation therapy services.  According to...

February 4, 2020

Southeastern Retina Associates (SERA), which operates in parts of Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia, has agreed to pay $1.5 million and enter into a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for allegedly defrauding Medicare and Medicaid.  The investigation was launched by a qui tam suit filed by an unnamed whistleblower, which alleged that between 2009 to 2016, the practice improperly billed exams at a higher rate than appropriate, and used a billing code called Modifier 25 to bill for exams that were not separately billable from other services billed the same day.  For exposing the misconduct, the relator in this case will receive a $270,000 share of the settlement.  USAO EDTN

January 15, 2020

TMJ & Orofacial Pain Treatment Centers of Wisconsin has agreed to pay $1 million to settle a qui tam suit alleging submissions of false claims to Medicare and TRICARE.  According to the anonymous whistleblower, who will receive an undisclosed share of the settlement, TMJ billed the government health programs for prosthetic devices as if they had been fabricated by in-house surgeons, when in fact they had been fabricated by an outside laboratory.  USAO EDWI

December 30, 2019

A defense contractor accused of submitting false claims on a contract with the U.S. Army has agreed to pay $3 million to resolve its liability.  Kansas-based LaForge & Budd Construction Company, Inc., had been tasked with raising the elevation of a dam at the Fort Sill Army Post in Oklahoma.  Although the contract specified that satisfactory fill be used, LaForge defied this by using materials such as pieces of concrete, rebar, and rubble, and then represented to the Army that it had fully complied with the contract's terms and conditions.  USAO WDOK

December 30, 2019

Medsurant Holdings, LLC, the nation's largest independent provider of Interoperative Neuromonitoring (IONM) services, has agreed to pay $1.9 million to settle allegations of defrauding Medicare.  According to the DOJ, from 2013 to 2016, Medsurant billed Medicare for IONM services—used to monitor patients’ nervous systems during high-risk surgeries—that were not provided exclusively to one patient or were concurrently provided to patients insured by private payors, in violation of Medicare rules as well as the False Claims Act.  USAO MDTN
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