The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to crackdown on its fight against illegal kickbacks. The feds are clear in their belief that what it considers bribes within the healthcare industry for medical services or equipment taint the ability to provide quality medical care and it will aggressively pursue a case to hold those accountable who may run afoul of these regulations. In this most recent case, the feds accused the owner of a diagnostic testing laboratory of violating the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS). This is the federal law that forbids knowingly offering, paying, or receiving renumeration to influence the use of items or services reimbursed by a federal healthcare program.
The government states the former owner offered benefits to physicians in exchange for using their lab services. These benefits allegedly included cash disguised as loans and medical equipment. Because the lab filed claims with Medicare and other government programs, the feds can attempt to build an AKS case.
The case is the result of a qui tam lawsuit. These whistle-blower claims often involve current or past employees filing a claim against the employer. The government may choose to join the suit if it believes there is enough evidence to support the claim. If successful, the worker receives a percentage of the winnings or settlement amount.
This case resolved with a settlement. The former owner agreed to pay the government $2,021,795.57 in this agreement. This is not the only case the government has pursued connected to this lab. In a previous case, the government reached a settlement with another former owner of the lab for $649,407.