We wrote last month about a settlement involving Quest Diagnostics Inc., but due to the timing of the settlement, and our press deadline, we weren’t able to fully explain it. Quest agreed to repay California $241 million for more than 15 years of overcharges to Medi-Cal. The settlement is the result of a lawsuit brought in 2005 by a whistleblower who alleged the labs systematically overcharged patients of Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program for the poor. The lawsuit also claimed Quest, California’s biggest provider of medical lab testing, gave illegal kickbacks to doctors, hospitals and clinics that referred Medi-Cal patients and charged Medi-Cal up to six times more than other customers for tests. This is just another example of how corporations commit fraud against state Medicaid programs. Attorney General Kamala Harris had this to say in a written statement:
Medi-Cal providers and others who seek to cheat the state through false claims and illegal kickbacks should know that my office is watching and will prosecute.
The settlement is the largest ever recovered under California’s False Claims Act. The whistleblower in the lawsuit was a smaller competitor, Hunter Laboratories Inc., whose CEO Chris Riedel complained that it was a struggle to compete with Quest’s low rates for doctors, hospitals and clinics, noting they were much lower than what Medi-Cal was being charged.
Niall P. McCarthy and Justice T. Beyer, lawyers with the firm of Cotchett, Pitre, & McCarthy, represented the whistleblower in the case. The firm, which has offices in California, New York and Washington, D.C., did a tremendous job in this case. The lawyers were instrumental in negotiating the settlement. The Attorney General also is to be commended for pushing this case and obtaining justice for California taxpayers.
Source: Mercury News
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