Oklahoma Hospital To Pay $13 Million To Resolve False Claims Act Allegations

January 27, 2010 by  

On December 22, 2009, the Department of Justice released the settlement of a False Claims Act case involving St. John Health System of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The health provider has agreed to pay the United States $13,229,348.88 to settle allegations that it submitted false claims to Medicare and Medicaid.

Specifically, the United States determined that St. John made payments to 23 individual physicians or physician groups to induce referrals for medical services. Federal law prohibits healthcare providers from billing federal health care programs for referrals from doctors with whom they have a financial relationship, unless that relationship falls within certain exceptions.

St. John’s fraudulent financial relationships were disclosed in a report filed by the health provider to the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Inspector General. The report suggested that the agreements with physicians may have violated federal law.

“The resolution of this matter yielded a substantial recovery for taxpayers, and it underscores our commitment to ensure that services reimbursable by federal health care programs are based on the best interests of patients rather than the personal financial interests of referring physicians,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Department’s Civil Division.

If you are seeing fraud on the government, contact us by calling 800-377-1812 for strictly confidential advice from experienced counsel, with no fee obligation.

Three Health Agencies Sued For Using Unqualified ‘Home Health Aides’

December 24, 2009 by  

On December 17, 2009, the office of the New York Attorney General announced a $24 million settlement to a False Claims Act lawsuit involving three home health agencies. The agencies utilized hundreds of “home health aides” with little or no required training. These aides were sent to the homes of New York’s elderly, frail and indigent to provide sensitive medical care they were not qualified to administer. As a result, Medicaid was billed millions of dollars for illegitimate services.

Under the terms of the settlement, B&H Health Care Services, Inc., known as Nursing Personnel Home Care, Excellent Home Care Services, LLC, and Extended Nursing Personnel CHHA, LLC, will return $23,963,100 to Medicaid–a program jointly funded by the state and federal governments. Of this amount, the State of New York will receive a total of $14,377,860.

The settlements were initiated by lawsuits filed under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private citizens to file suit on behalf of the United States for fraud and share in any recovery. Maurice Keshner will receive approximately $1,693,343 from New York’s recovery from Nursing Personnel. Deborah Yannicelli will receive approximately $994,080 from New York’s recovery from Extended and Excellent. The Act also provides protection against job retaliation for whistleblowing.

Medicaid requires home health aides – who primarily care for elderly patients, administer medication, and provide services such as catheter care, colostomy care and wound care – to successfully complete a training program licensed by the Department of Health or the State Education Department. All such aides must receive a minimum of 75 hours of training, including sixteen hours of supervised practical training conducted by a registered nurse.
If you are seeing fraud on the government, contact us by calling 800-377-1812 for strictly confidential advice from experienced counsel, with no fee obligation.

Pharmaceutical Company Will Pay $21 Million for Overpricing Respiratory Drugs

December 24, 2009 by  

On December 17, 2009, Bloomberg News reported that Schering-Plough Corp., a drug company, will pay $21.3 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit against it. The settlement stems from a whistleblower lawsuit against several drug companies accused of Medicaid fraud.

The suit alleged that Schering deliberately inflated the average wholesale price it reported to California for Albuterol, a treatment for asthma and other breathing problems, as well as other drugs. As a result, California’s Medi-Cal program overpaid millions of dollars in pharmacy reimbursements.

Schlering was recently acquired by Merck & Co. of New Jersey. Merck didn’t admit wrongdoing and said its pricing practices complied with regulations and contracts. The settlement amount was reserved and significantly funded by Schering-Plough prior to its merger with Merck in November, Merck said.
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Whistleblowers Rewarded For Revealing Healthcare Fraud

June 18, 2009 by  

One June 3, 2009, The United States Attorney Office, District of Hawaii, announced that Queen’s Medical Center (QMC) of Honolulu has paid $2.5 million to resolve allegations that it overbilled Medicare, Hawaii’s Medicaid, and TRICARE. This marks the settlement of two congruent lawsuits that were filed by two “whistleblowers” that were former pharmacy technicians at QMC.

Under the federal and State of Hawaii False Claims Acts, the government is able to recover up to triple damages, plus penalties, for fraudulent claims made to government programs. Of the $2.5 million QMC has paid, the government received $2 million, of which it shared $400,000 with the whistleblowers. United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii Edward H. Kubo, Jr., praised the two technicians for their courage in coming forward with the case.

As part of the settlement, QMC, the largest private hospital in Hawaii, will maintain a compliance program to ensure its fulfillment of all applicable program rules and requirements for the next five years. The hospital has pledged to continue its efforts to provide high quality health care while complying with health care rules.

In the case, the former technicians alleged that QMC submitted false bills for medications it dispensed and billed federal programs for services the hospital was not eligible to perform. While QMC has agreed to the settlement, it has denied the government’s contentions.

If you are witnessing fraud on the government, contact us by calling 800-377-1812 for strictly confidential advice from experienced counsel, with no fee obligation.

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