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Austin Texas Legal Issues Blog

Pharm companies may need to pay billions to settle opioid lawsuit

With the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting over 450,000 opioid overdose deaths in the country from 1999 to 2018, it should come as no surprise that the government continues its crackdown on opioid violations. The government is focusing on those who manufacture and distribute opioids.

What is the latest government action against opioid manufacturers and distributors?

OIG calls on diagnostic labs to implement compliance plans

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) along with other federal agencies who enforce the regulations that apply to diagnostic labs have called on these healthcare facilities to implement compliance plans.

What regulations are applicable?

Diagnostic labs need to abide by a number of federal regulations. Examples include the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS), Stark Law and, most recently, the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act (EKRA). Additional state and local regulations may also apply.

What if my private practice needs to reevaluate pay equity?

The #MeToo and #BLM movements have brought increased attention to the inequalities that are present within our communities and workplaces. These movements are fueling discussions and provide an opportunity to consider change.

Pay equity is one example.

How is pay equity playing a role in social change?

As noted in a recent report by the Harvard Business Review (HBR), over a dozen states throughout the country have passed legislation that requires employers to file equal pay reports on an annual basis. Workers are also taking matters into their own hands, proactively comparing salaries and looking for discrepancies to discuss with their employer's. This transparency will likely catalyze change and could lead to allegations of wrongdoing if business owners do not take action to ensure pay equity.

Medical device manufacturer accused of illegal kickbacks

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently pursued a case against a medical device manufacturer. The federal agency claimed the healthcare business used illegal kickbacks to encourage medical professionals to use their products. The physicians would then bill Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare for the procedures, which led to a federal investigation.

Nursing home administrators: Be on the watch for this new scheme

A new COVID-19 related testing scheme is the latest in a series of attempts to defraud nursing home residents. Nursing home administrators are wise to be aware of this latest scheme to help better ensure the safety of their residents.

Details of this scheme

Healthcare company accused of FCA violation with incentive stocks

Private equity firms continue to grow their presence within the healthcare industry. We have a number of posts discussing this trend, touching on how to navigate these transactions as well as potential benefits and risks. A recent case explores the risk, looking into allegations that one of the incentives for the private equity deal was a violation of federal law.

What was the alleged violation?

The issue involves allegations incentive stock gifted to non-employee physicians who completed procedures for the surgical center were tantamount to illegal kickbacks. It is not uncommon for these deals to include incentive stock. In cases like this, physicians could redeem the stock for compensation when the owners sold the surgical center.

How can my practice handle patient complaints?

Physician practices need to navigate the needs of a successful business while ensuring quality patient care. The old adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" can go a long way towards helping build a successful practice. A failure to take patient complaints seriously could result in an official complaint - possibly even leading to an investigation by the state licensing board. When it comes to patient complaints the best approach may be to know the common issues and take proactive steps to avoid falling into the same traps.

TX medical center agrees to pay $15M to settle with FHA

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced a settlement agreement with a Texas medical center and surgeons. The settlement, for approximately $15 million, is the most recent in a series of claims the DOJ has pursued in recent months against medical professionals, highlighting the continued aggressive efforts even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

DOJ announces criminal charges for over 100 doctors and nurses

The Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's Criminal Division recently announced a "historic nationwide enforcement action" that resulted in criminal charges for over 100 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. The charges are the result of allegations the professionals submitted over $6 billion in false and fraudulent claims.

Cardiologist sues hospital officials for wrongful termination

The physician received his medical training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and the Texas Heart Institute at Baylor St Luke's Medical Center in Houston. Hospital officials hired the specialist in 2018 to fill a variety of cardiology needs within their facility. Some of the services he was trained to provide include transradial coronary interventions, peripheral arterial interventions, structural heart disease and critical cardiac care.

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