A United States district judge recently sentenced a health care executive after the government accused him of running an elaborate network that benefited from the use of illegal referrals. According to the indictment, the accused owned and operated skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities. The government accused the businessman of using illegal bribes and kickbacks to encourage medical professionals to recommend the use of his businesses to patients.
The case went to trial. In April, the jury convicted the man for criminal charges including money laundering, obstruction of justice and Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) violations. At sentencing earlier this month, the judge gave the health care exec 20 years imprisonment. He could also be required to forfeit $28.5 million in assets.
Lesson #1: The government continues to seek out AKS and other bribery violations
The case provides a wake-up call for medical professionals throughout the country. The government continues to crackdown on the use of bribery to encourage business opportunities within the health care market.
Lesson #2: The line between medical collaboration and bribery not always transparent
Unfortunately, the line between kickbacks and working together with qualified medical professionals in your community to provide patients with quality care is not always transparent. As such, medical professionals should take this case as an opportunity to review their arrangements with other medical professionals and make sure they are in line with applicable rules and regulations.
Lesson #3: The government pursues all potential criminal charges
In this instance, the accused faced more than just allegations of health care fraud. As is often the case, the prosecution pushed for convictions for money laundering, conspiracy and other criminal wrongdoing.
When successful, as was true in this case, the additional charges can greatly increase the penalties. As a result, anyone in the health care industry that becomes the subject of a health care fraud investigation is wise to seek legal counsel. An attorney can protect your interests during the investigation and preserve your rights in the event the investigation results in allegations of wrongdoing.