Georgia Bone & Joint, Summit Surgery Center, Southern Crescent Anesthesiology, Sentry Anesthesia Management, and David LaGuardia agreed to pay $3.2 million to settle allegations that LaGuardia, Sentry, and SCA provided a free medical director to Summit Surgery Center in order to induce it to choose to perform more procedures at the surgery center rather than in the GBJ office. GBJ and LaGuardia were also accused of causing the submission of false claims to Medicare for prescription drugs purchased outside of the United States and not approved by the FDA.“Decisions on where and how patients’ medical procedures are performed should never be made based on thinly veiled bribes, as was alleged in this matter,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Such alleged schemes will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted.”
The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by a former Practice Administrator for SBJ under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. The law allows private citizens, known as relators, to bring a lawsuit on the government’s behalf, rewarding them with a significant portion of the government’s recovery (between 15% and 30%).
“Abuses of the healthcare system destroy the basic trust between providers and patients, between taxpayers and government,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI and its federal partners make it a priority to make sure funds are not hijacked by those willing to misuse taxpayer dollars, thereby violating individuals who count on our healthcare programs for their medical needs.”.
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