In 2018, Congress enacted the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recover Act (EKRA). This law remains relatively untested. As such, labs can learn valuable lessons by watching court cases that are navigating this law.
What led to the first EKRA conviction?
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky accepted a guilty plea in March. The government built the case against an 80-year-old office manager of a substance abuse treatment clinic. The prosecution accused the woman of soliciting kickbacks in exchange for drug test referrals.
What can other labs and those who work within labs learn from this case?
The case is the first to lead to a conviction under the new law. Other labs should note and consider the following:
- Review of approach. Labs that operate in the toxicology and substance abuse markets may be wise to review their approach to referral and compensation. In light of this recent conviction, other labs may want to consider a change in these practices.
- Seek counsel if investigated. In this case, the government also accused the office manager of handling the investigation poorly. The government claimed the woman intentionally lied to avoid charges. Those in a similar situation can mitigate the risk of similar charges by seeking legal counsel to represent their interests throughout the investigation.
- Note the seriousness of the penalties. Those who are accused of similar crimes face harsh penalties. In this case, the accused faces 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up $250,000.
Whether looking for proactive advice or representation in litigation, labs are wise to seek legal counsel to help navigate the relatively uncharted waters of EKRA.