On August 29, 2014, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Omni Surgical L.P. (dba Spine 360), and Dr. Jamie Gottlieb, an Indiana Spinal Surgeon, agreed to pay the U.S. Government $2.6 million to settle allegations that Spine 360 and Dr. Gottlieb knowingly violated the False Claims Act when Dr. Gottlieb accepted kickbacks from Spine 360 for using their medical devices. In addition, Spine 360 falsified financial documents in order to cover up illegal incentives paid to Dr. Gottlieb in an attempt to avoid suspicion.
The Anti-Kickback Statute, a provision of the False Claims Act, is designed to protect patients and federal health care programs from fraud and abuse by prohibiting the use of money or anything of value that is intended to induce, reward, or influence health care decisions. Therefore, anyone who knowingly and willfully accepts or offers payment or compensation of any kind and in any manner with the intention of influencing medical decisions is in violation of the False Claims Act. In this case, between 2007 and 2009, Spine 360, located in Austin, Texas, allegedly offered Dr. Gottlieb monetary kickbacks for using their medical devices on his patients. In doing so, it allegedly influenced Dr. Gottlieb’s medical decisions and possibly compromised the quality care and best interest of his patients.
Medical violations of this kind are not new. However, the U.S. Government continues to hold those in violation of the False Claims Act accountable for their actions. For example, in July 2014, the government settled a lawsuit filed against two Infirmary Health System Inc. (IHS) affiliated clinics and Diagnostic Physicians Group P.C. (DPG) for violating the False Claims Act by paying or receiving financial inducements in connection with claims to the Medicare program. In this case, whistleblower, Dr. Christian Heesch, a physician formerly employed by Diagnostic Physicians Group, is entitled to $4.41 million for reporting fraud against government-funded programs. Furthermore, last month, the government settled allegations that Carondelet Health Network (CHN) and its affiliate hospitals, Carondelet St. Mary’s and Carondelet St. Joseph’s in Tucson, Arizona, knowingly violated the False Claims Act by overcharging the U.S. Government when it submitted false bills to Medicare and other Federal Health Care programs, and whistleblower, Jacqueline Bloink, formerly employed by the CHN, is entitled to a share of the settlement payment for reporting fraud against the government, which amounts to $6 million.
If you have information concerning a potential case involving kickback schemes, Medicare fraud, or Government Health Care billing fraud, do not hesitate to take action. It is possible that you might be able to bring your own qui tam lawsuit under the False Claims Act, acting as a whistleblower on behalf of the US government. Before filing your lawsuit, be sure to consult with an attorney familiar with the intricacies of the False Claims Act and qui tam lawsuits, as these attorneys are best equipped to help protect your rights and help you gain your share of any monetary reward from a potential settlement.
If you would like to consult with one of our False Claims Act attorneys concerning Medicare fraud, please fill out our Confidential Case Evaluation form, or call (202) 973-0900 to speak with a lawyer at the law offices of Tycko & Zavareei LLP.