dollar-signiStock_000013001848_LargeRoughly $2.95 for each $1 overpaid (plus legal costs and the overpayment) based on an August 24, 2016, U.S. Attorney’s Office press release regarding settlement of State of New York, ex rel. Robert P. Kane v. Healthfirst, Inc. et al case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Defendants previously lost a motion to dismiss this case based, in part, on the fact that defendants actually identified and repaid the overpayments. Specifically, about $1 million in overpayments were presented to the defendants in the form of a spreadsheet in February 2011. Subsequently, defendants repaid the overpayments in more than 30 installments from April 2011 to March 2013. Notwithstanding, the government took the position that, under the False Claims Act, repayment should have been made within 60 days of the date of the claims were identified in the spreadsheet. Defendants argued, among other things, that there was ambiguity about the term “identify” as used in the False Claims Act and that the spreadsheet was merely the first component of an investigation into the overpayments that was ongoing through the repayment process. Almost a year after losing the motion to dismiss, defendants settled the case for $2.95 million.
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gavel2-touched upIn some courts in the United States today, a government contractor or a healthcare provider seeking reimbursement from a federal program can violate the False Claims Act even when its work is satisfactory and its invoices are correct. Under the theory of “implied certification,” a minor instance of non-compliance with one of the thousands of applicable statutes, regulations, and contract provisions can be the basis for a federal investigation, years of litigation, as well as fines, penalties, suspension and debarment, even imprisonment of company personnel.
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Healthcare_148231933The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) issued a fraud alert on June 9, 2015, targeting physician compensation agreements that potentially violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b). The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits remuneration of payment in exchange for referrals of patients receiving aid from federally funded healthcare programs (i.e. Medicare and Medicaid). The OIG alert references 12 recent settlements with individual physicians who entered into “questionable” medical directorship and office staff arrangements. The key concern in those cases centered on individual physicians entering into arrangements where the compensation did not “reflect [the] fair market value for bona fide services the physicians actually provide[d].”
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clipboard with white blank paper masks stethoscope blood pressurThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an opinion June 12, 2015, lambasting the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (“CMS”) rationale in implementing the ban on “per-click” space and equipment leases under the Stark Law. This ban, which went into effect Oct. 1, 2009, was effectively challenged by the Council for Urological Interests (“Council”), which was also behind the successful challenge against the application of the Stark Law to hospital lithotripsy services in 2002.

Among the more colorful descriptions used by the Court in describing CMS’s position were that it was “incomprehensible,” “tortured”, and “the stuff of caprice.” And on an even more scathing note, the Court described CMS’s reading of the legislative history of the Stark Law as belonging to the “cross-your-fingers-and-hope-it-goes-away school of statutory interpretation.”
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Gavel_iStock_000003118029Small_BWThe District of Columbia reached a settlement agreement with Children’s Hospital, Children’s National Medical Center Inc. and its affiliates (collectively, “CNMC”) on June 15, 2015, to resolve allegations that CNMC violated the False Claims Act by submitting false cost reports and other applications to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (“HHS”) as well as to the Virginia and District of Columbia Medicaid programs. Further details can be found in the Department of Justice’s press release announcing the settlement.
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money-closeup122486570The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a special fraud alert on June 9, 2015, stating that physician compensation arrangements may result in significant liability. Hopefully this is not a surprise to any physician or entity that treats federal health plan beneficiaries. However, given that, historically, OIG regulatory actions largely (although not exclusively) focused on the entity from which a physician received compensation, such as hospitals, laboratories, durable medical equipment suppliers, pharmacies, etc., the June 9, 2015, fraud alert highlights the potential for physician liability in these arrangements.
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