The DOJ announced a settlement with Texas-based radiation therapy center SightLine Health LLC (“SightLine”) and Oncology Network Holdings LLC, which acquired SightLine in 2011, for $11.5 million to settle allegations in a False Claims Act complaint that Sightline submitted Medicare claims that violated the Anti-Kickback Statute. According to DOJ, the allegations centered on SightLine paying physicians a share of profits in exchange for referrals through investment arrangements.
SightLine would allegedly form a series of leasing companies where physicians were allowed to invest. SightLine would then allegedly pay the physicians a share of the profits in exchange for the physicians referring patients to SightLine’s cancer treatment centers. Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler said “Investment arrangements that are structured to improperly compensate physicians for referrals can encourage physicians to make decisions based on financial gain rather than the best interest of their patients.”
In addition to the settlement payment, Integrated Oncology Network and SightLine have entered into a five-year corporate integrity agreement (“CIA”). The CIA will include internal and external monitoring of relationships between SightLine and any current or former referring physician investors. Chief Counsel to the HHS Inspector General Gregory Demske said “Companies seeking to boost profits by paying physicians kickbacks for patient referrals undermine impartial medical judgment and increase health care costs for everyone.”
The lawsuit was filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. The whistleblower in this case will receive up to $1.725 million.
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