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Upcoding

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December 13, 2021

Kevin Cooper, M.D. and his practice, Cooper Family Medical Center, will pay $375,000 to resolve allegations that they fraudulently billed Medicare of non-reimbursable acupuncture devices by using billing codes for surgically implanted devices for the provision of P-Stim electro-acupuncture devices that are affixed behind a patient’s ear using an adhesive.  USAO SD MI

December 7, 2021

New Jersey-based Princeton Pathology Services P.A. will pay $2.4 million to resolve allegations that it overbilled Medicare by submitting claims using a Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code that required written analysis by a pathologist, when no such analysis was required or had been prepared.  A whistleblower, Jayant Barai, M.D., initiated the matter by filing a qui tam complaint under the False Claims Act, and will receive an award of $456,000USAO NJ

Sutter Health – Medicare Advantage Fraud ($90 million)

Constantine Cannon represented whistleblower Kathy Ormsby in a False Claims Act litigation against Sutter Health and its affiliates that resulted in a $90 million settlement – the largest Medicare Advantage FCA settlement to date against a hospital system, and the second largest reported Medicare Advantage fraud settlement to date.  Ms. Ormsby, a former Risk Adjustment Factor Project Manager at Sutter Health affiliate Palo Alto Medical Foundation, alleged the Sutter Health defendants inflated the number and severity of Medicare Advantage patient diagnoses, manipulated patient records, ignored audit “red flags,” and engaged in other misconduct to increase patient risk scores and obtain Medicare Advantage payments to which they were not entitled.  In Spring 2019, the Government intervened in Ms. Ormsby’s case as to PAMF, and Ms. Ormsby continued to pursue her claims against the other Sutter Health affiliates on a non-intervened basis. This settlement resolves all claims and follows Sutter’s unsuccessful effort to dismiss both the complaints.  Read more: Press Release; Whistleblower Insider.

August 30, 2021

Northern California healthcare provider Sutter Health and its affiliated entities will pay $90 million to resolve a False Claims Act case initially filed by whistleblower Kathy Ormsby alleging that defendants submitted unsupported diagnosis codes for patients enrolled in Medicare Advantage.  Sutter contracts with Medicare Advantage Organizations to provide care to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries enrolled in their plans, and allegedly caused those MAOs to submit to Medicare inaccurate and invalid diagnosis codes that inflated the risk scores of those beneficiaries and were not supported by the medical records, thereby resulting in overpayments by CMS.  Sutter also allegedly failed to take sufficient corrective action when it became aware of the submission of these unsupported diagnosis codes.  Sutter also entered into a five-year corporate integrity agreement.  Sutter previously entered into a partial settlement of $30 million, which will be credited against the $90 million total settlement.  DOJ; USAO ND Cal

August 25, 2021

Georgia-based psychotherapy provide Carenow Services, LLC, together with its CEO Leena Karun, will pay $2 million to resolve allegations of FCA violations through their billing for services at nursing homes that were not medically necessary, that were improperly documented, and at higher intensity levels than justified.  The investigation was initiated when a former Carenow employee filed a qui tam complaint; the whistleblower will receive an undisclosed whistleblower reward.  USAO ND Ga

Media Coverage of Government Intervention in Kaiser Medicare Advantage Suits: LA Times says Cases Point to a “Massive Fraud Problem in Medicare”

Posted  08/6/21
Headshots of attorneys Edward Baker, Mary Inman, and Michael Ronickher
As we announced last week, the U.S. Department of Justice gave notice that it was intervening in six different False Claims Act lawsuits against Medicare Advantage organization Kaiser Permanente and its affiliated entities, including a whistleblower lawsuit filed by Constantine Cannon’s whistleblower client, James Taylor, M.D.  The government’s decision received extensive coverage in the media, with Los Angeles...

United States Reaches a “Tipping Point” in Managed Care Enforcement: DOJ Intervenes in Constantine Cannon’s Lawsuit Against Kaiser Permanente

Posted  07/30/21
Kaiser Permanente Building with Logo
In a sign that the government’s enforcement efforts against fraud in the Medicare managed care system have reached a tipping point, the U.S. Department of Justice announced today that it is joining a portion of a whistleblower lawsuit brought by a Constantine Cannon client under the False Claims Act against Kaiser Permanente and affiliated entities, one of the nation’s largest managed-care organizations. ...

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 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

June 23, 2021

El Paso Ear, Nose & Throat Associates (EPENT) has agreed to pay $750,000 to settle allegations of defrauding Medicaid, Medicare, and TRICARE.  In violation of the False Claims Act, EPENT allegedly billed the programs at a higher rate of reimbursement than what they were actually entitled to by upcoding evaluation and management codes.  USAO WDTX
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