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Cancer centers in war of words, legal actions

A Texas cancer centers chain with locations across the Southwest has been embroiled in a years-long legal dispute with an Arkansas competitor. Landmark Cancer Center has locations in San Antonio, Dallas, Plano and other spots in Texas.

Its Fayetteville facility is pitted in a war of words and legal actions with Highlands Oncology Group. Perhaps the loudest volley in the exchange was in a lawsuit filed two years ago in which Highlands physicians alleged that doctors connected to Landmark were fraudulently billing Medicare.

The Highland doctors claimed in their suit that the physicians were referring cancer patients to Landmark because they had a financial stake in Landmark. If the allegations are true, it would mean the Landmark doctors could be guilty of violating the Anti-Kickback Statute.

On the other side of the coin, Landmark says that Highland “has done everything in its power to prevent Landmark from establishing itself as an alternative radiation oncology service provider.”

In its recently filed legal action, Landmark claims that last year someone used a former employee’s (someone who had just starting working for Highlands) to hack the Landmark computer system and install ransomware, a type of malware designed to extort payments.

The 2015 Highlands lawsuit said Landmark doctors-associated doctors working at a nearby hospital fraudulently billed Medicare for more than $600,000 and steered patients to Landmark. Some of those physicians named in the suit are or were limited business partners in Landmark-connected businesses.

Charges and countercharges of this sort can have serious consequences; sometimes resulting in federal involvement in Anti-Kickback Statute violation investigations, false claims litigation or criminal prosecution.