A physician in Washington state pled guilty on September 28, 2022, to a criminal charge of conspiring to accept kickbacks related to fraudulent genetic testing. According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the physician ordered certain genetic testing for Medicare beneficiaries that he was not treating and with whom a physician-patient relationship was not established as part of the scheme. According to the plea agreement accepted by the physician, the physician would be connected by telemarketers to the beneficiaries for a few minutes, the physician would order the diagnostic test, the labs would then bill for the test, and another company billed Medicare for the purported telemedicine visit. The physician received almost $168,000 in kickbacks for ordering the medically-unnecessary testing and other services, which resulted in over $18 million being paid by Medicare.
On November 4, 2021, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the conviction of several South Florida addiction treatment facility operators following a seven-week trial. The initial indictment was filed in September 2020, charging ten defendants for their alleged conduct in committing health care fraud, wire fraud, violations of the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act (EKRA), the Anti-Kickback Statute, and money laundering. The defendants included the co-owners of two entities providing treatment and therapy for substance use disorder, several other management level individuals, a referring chiropractor, and several marketing employees. …
Continue Reading DOJ Focused on Toxicology Testing – EKRA and Anti-Kickback Statute Violations Abound
Excerpt of a contributed article published in Medical Economics on November 3, 2020.
These waivers could lead to lasting flexibilities for physicians — if a few bad apples don’t spoil the bunch
On October 19, 2020, the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) highlighted recent actions taken by the federal government…
On March 24, 2020, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a joint statement on COVID-19-related antitrust enforcement highlighting ways “firms, including competitors, can engage in procompetitive collaboration that does not violate the antitrust laws” to protect public health and safety. The DOJ and FTC emphasized their commitment to facilitating antitrust compliance for businesses that are responding to the national emergency. In furtherance of this position, the agencies gave examples of collaborative activities designed to improve health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic that are unlikely to run afoul of the antitrust laws, absent exceptions. These include:
- Collaboration on research and development as “efficiency-enhancing integration of economic activity” which is typically procompetitive.
- Sharing technical know-how – rather than company specific data about prices, wages, outputs, or costs – as necessary to achieve procompetitive benefits of collaboration.
- The “development of suggested practice parameters – standards for patient management developed to assist providers in clinical decisionmaking” by providers will not be challenged except in extraordinary circumstances.
- Joint purchasing arrangements among health care providers “designed to increase the efficiency of procurement and reduce transaction costs.”
- “[P]rivate lobbying addressed to the use of federal emergency authority, including private industry meetings with the federal government to discuss strategies on responding to COVID-19, insofar as those activities comprise mere solicitation of governmental action with respect to the passage and enforcement of laws.”
On February 27, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced an action to block a proposed transaction between Thomas Jefferson University d/b/a Jefferson Health (Jefferson) and Albert Einstein Healthcare Network (Einstein). Jefferson and Einstein entered into a “System Integration Agreement” in late 2018 under which Jefferson would become the sole member (i.e., owner) of Einstein and oversee a 14-hospital system (11 of which would be located in Pennsylvania). According to the FTC, Jefferson and Einstein are leading providers of inpatient general acute care (GAC) hospital services and inpatient acute rehabilitation services in Philadelphia County and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and therefore the FTC now challenges the proposed integration on the basis that it will substantially harm competition for those services in both Philadelphia and Montgomery counties.
Continue Reading FTC and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Challenge Proposed Hospital Merger
On January 27, 2020, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a $145 million settlement with Practice Fusion Inc., an electronic health records (EHR) software company that resolves parallel criminal and civil investigations involving allegations of kickbacks, false claims, and non-compliance with federal EHR program requirements. We previously discussed a preliminary settlement in this case here, and in announcing the finalizing of that settlement the DOJ has shed more light on the allegedly improper conduct at issue. According to the DOJ, this is the first criminal action ever brought against an EHR company, and the “unique” deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) imposed by the DOJ against Practice Fusion that seeks “to ensure acceptance of responsibility and transparency as to” underlying conduct may reflect a new approach to settlements with corporate health care defendants.
Continue Reading DOJ Announces Settlement with EHR Company to Resolve Criminal and Civil Kickback Investigations Tied to Opioid Prescribing
On January 10, 2020, The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced new draft vertical merger guidelines for public comment. Once finalized, the draft guidelines will replace the DOJ’s 1984 Non-Horizontal Merger Guidelines and describe how the FTC and the DOJ will analyze and enforce vertical mergers for compliance with the antitrust laws. Vertical mergers combine two or more companies operating at different levels of the same supply chain, e.g., a combination between a hospital and independent physician group, or a health system and a skilled nursing facility. The draft guidelines adopt common concepts from the Horizontal Merger Guidelines, such as the definition of a “market,” the framework for analyzing the sale of a failing business or its assets, and the purchase of partial ownership interests. Notably, and to the disappointment of many within the health care community, the draft guidelines provide little guidance on vertical mergers specific to the health care industry. Additionally, two FTC Commissioners abstained from voting on the draft guidelines and issued statements outlining their concerns that the guidelines are too lenient toward vertical mergers.
Continue Reading DOJ and FTC Announce Draft Vertical Merger Guidelines
On January 21, 2020, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a $3 million settlement with Patient Services, Inc. (PSI) to resolve allegations of False Claims Act (FCA) violations. The DOJ alleged that PSI enabled three pharmaceutical companies to pay kickbacks to patients by funneling money to patients taking drugs manufactured by those same pharmaceutical companies. In addition to the $3 million, PSI has entered into a three-year integrity agreement with Health and Human Services’s Office of the Inspector General. The settlement involved no determination of liability.
Continue Reading DOJ Reaches Settlement with Patient Assistance Foundation Resolving Allegations of FCA Violations
On November 26, 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a $26.67 million settlement with a laboratory testing corporation, Boston Heart Diagnostics Corporation (Boston Heart). The settlement resolves allegations of False Claims Act (FCA) violations related to alleged payments for patient referrals in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) and the Physician Self-Referral Law (PSR Law) – commonly known as the Stark Law – and other improper billing.
Continue Reading DOJ Announces $26.67 Million Settlement with Laboratory to Resolve FCA Allegations
On November 15, 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it had reached a settlement with Sutter Health (Sutter) and Sacramento Cardiovascular Surgeons Medical Group Inc. (Sac Cardio) to resolve alleged violations of the Physician Self-Referral Law (PSR Law), commonly known as the Stark Law. Sutter is a California-based health services provider; Sac Cardio is a Sacramento-based practice group of three cardiovascular surgeons. The total settlement in excess of $46 million includes $30.5 million from Sutter to resolve allegations of an improper financial relationship specific to compensation arrangements with Sac Cardio. Sac Cardio has agreed to pay $506,000 to resolve allegations of duplicative billing associated with one of these compensation arrangements. Separately, the settlement includes another $15,117,516 from Sutter to resolve self-disclosed conduct principally concerning the PSR Law.
Continue Reading DOJ Announces Physician Self-Referral (Stark) Law Settlement in Excess of $46 Million with California Health System and Surgical Group