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Provider Fraud

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CATCH OF THE WEEK — Ophthalmology group, former CEO, and individual physicians settle fraud claims for $6.65M

Posted  10/11/19
Our latest Catch of the Week highlights the successful resolution of a whistleblower lawsuit against a Southern California eye doctor group and several individuals allegedly embroiled in a decade-long scheme to bill publicly funded healthcare programs for unnecessary eye exams.  Ophthalmology provider group Retina Institute of California Medical Group (RIC), its former CEO, several of its doctors, and other involved...

October 10, 2019

Traverse Anesthesia Associates, P.C. (TAA) and six of its anesthesiologists have agreed to pay $607,966 to resolve a partially-intervened qui tam lawsuit jointly filed by two former employees.  In violation of the False Claims Act, TAA allegedly failed to meet regulatory requirements and conditions of payment in submissions to Medicare.  The unnamed whistleblowers will share a $120,000 award.  USAO WDMI

October 9, 2019

The largest operator of kidney dialysis clinics in the United States has agreed to pay $5.2 million to resolve a lawsuit alleging it submitted false claims to Medicare for excessive and unnecessary immune tests.  From 2013 to 2010, Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc. allegedly billed Medicare for Hepatitis B surface antigen tests it performed on patients already known to be immune, at a frequency well above that established by Medicare.  For exposing the alleged False Claims Act violations, former employee Christopher Drennen will receive a 27.5% share of the recovery.  USAO MA

October 4, 2019

Southern California-based Retina Institute of California Medical Group (RIC), its former CEO, and several of its physicians have agreed to pay the State of California and United States $6.65 million to settle alleged violations of state and federal False Claims Acts.  According to former administrators Bobbette Smith and Susan Rogers, between 2006 and 2017, the ophthalmology group improperly billed Medicare and Medicaid for unnecessary and unperformed eye exams, upcoded simple exams using codes normally reserved for emergency conditions, and waived mandatory co-payments and deductibles to induce patient referrals.  Smith and Rogers will receive a relator’s share, which remains to be determined.  USAO CDCA

October 3, 2019

Glenn A. Kline and Community Surgical Associates of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, will pay $4.25 million to resolve claims that Dr. Kline entered into an unlawful kickback arrangement with two hospitals owned by Health Management Associates in exchange for his referral of patients to the hospitals.  The hospitals paid Dr. Kline far above fair market value for his services, and made additional payments to Community Surgical Associates, structuring those payments to conceal their purpose.  HMA previously paid $260 million to resolve related claims; physician groups, EmCare Inc. and Physician’s Alliance Ltd, agreed to pay more than $33 million; and, former HMA CEO Gary Newsome agreed to pay $3.5 million.  The claims against Kline and Community Surgical were original made in a qui tam complaint filed by former HMA executives George Miller and Michael Metts; they will receive $1.05 million of the settlement.  USAO ED PA

September 26, 2019

Physician Philippe R. Chain will pay $300,000 to resolve allegations that he caused the submission of false claims to Tricare while working for telemedicine company CallMD. Chain allegedly issued and approved prescriptions for compounded medications, many of which were not medically necessary, without speaking to, examining, or otherwise having a physician-patient relationship with the patients.  USAO CT

September 17, 2019

Physician Alliance Ltd. (PAL) and its medical director agreed to pay $178,000 to resolve False Claims Act allegations for improperly billing Medicare for providing patients with electric acupuncture medical devices that is affixed behind patients' ears. Since Medicare does not reimburse for acupunctural devices, PAL allegedly billed Medicare for the “implantation of neurostimulator electrodes,” a procedure that requires surgery and for which Medicare reimburses in the thousands of dollars. The case was investigated out of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. DOJ

September 17, 2019

Physician Alliance Ltd. and Richard Frey, D.O. will pay $178,400 to resolve allegations that they submitted false claims to Medicare.  When defendants provided patients with "P-Stim" devices, which are worn on a patient's ear and marketed as an acupuncture treatment, they billed Medicare for the implantation of neurostimulator electrodes, which is a surgical procedure for which Medicare reimburses thousands of dollars.  By contrast, Medicare does not reimburse for acupuncture or acupuncture devices.  USAO EDPA

September 9, 2019

Dr. Augusto Castrillon of Texas has agreed to pay $2 million to settle allegations he fraudulently billed Medicare for medically unnecessary diagnostic tests in violation of the federal False Claims Act.  From 2009 to 2015, the owner and operator of Castrillon Family Clinic allegedly submitted false claims for transcranial doppler imaging studies, electromyography, nerve conduction studies, and autonomic function testing that were ordered for the same patients on a recurring basis.  The claims submitted by Dr. Castrillion were so excessive that they stood out as a significant statistical outlier in a proactive review of claims data by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  USAO SDTX
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