Health Diagnostics Laboratory, Inc. (HDL) and Singulex, Inc. have agreed to pay almost $50 million after whistleblower lawsuits derailed their practice of soliciting clients from physicians and conducting unnecessary tests. The whistleblowers alleged that HDL and Singulex cheated the Medicare and Medicaid programs by illegally inducing physicians to steer patients to HDL and Singulex for laboratory testing. It was alleged further that the two companies were fraudulently billing the government for laboratory testing services that were tainted by illegal kickbacks.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the lawsuits allege that HDL and Singulex induced physicians to refer patients to them for blood testing by paying them processing and handling fees of between $10 and $17 per referral. Additionally, the companies would routinely waive patient co-pays and deductibles as an incentive for referrals. Acting Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, who is in the Justice Department’s Civil Division had this to say: “Health care providers that attempt to profit by providing illegal inducements will be held accountable.”
The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits offering, paying, soliciting or receiving remuneration to induce referrals of items or services covered by federally funded programs. The purpose of the statute is to ensure that a physician’s medical judgment is not compromised by improper financial incentives and is instead based on the best interests of the patient. Acting U.S. Attorney Vincent H. Cohen, Jr., of the District of Columbia observed:
When health care companies pursue profits by paying kickbacks to doctors, they undermine a patient’s ability to trust that medical decisions are being made for scientific reasons, not financial ones.
In addition to undermining doctor’s medical decisions, kickbacks also harm the tax payer because they drive up the cost of federal health care programs with medically unnecessary tests. The False Claims Act is one of the most powerful tools that can be used to combat Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud. Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $23.9 billion through False Claim Act cases, with more than $15.2 billion of that recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs. If you need more information on Whistleblower litigation, contact Lance Gould, a lawyer in our firm’s Consumer Fraud/Commercial Litigation Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Lance.Gould@beasleyallen.com. Lance handles whistleblower litigation for the firm.
Source: Department of Justice – Justice News
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