Given the size and scope of fraud alleged against a Florida hospital, the federal government recently decided to intervene in a lawsuit against Halifax Hospital Medical Center, in which the hospital is accused of committing several egregious healthcare violations to the tune of $200 million. The whistleblower, a former employee of the hospital, alleges that the hospital engaged in billing fraud, unnecessary hospital admissions, inappropriate spinal procedures, and illegal kickbacks for more than a decade. If the allegations prove to be true, the damages for the illegal kickbacks alone could exceed $178 million, making it one of the largest whistleblower cases of its kind.
DeVry – the popular for-profit, higher education organization known for its online courses and flexible schedules – is currently the subject of multiple investigations for potential False Claims Act violations. Earlier this month, DeVry received a subpoena from the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Illinois in connection with an investigation into its compensation practices. And, most recently, DeVry received a Civil Investigative Demand from the Office of the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in connection with an investigation into potential false claims and/or false statements relating to student loans, guarantees, and grants provided to Massachusetts students.
Just weeks after the Scooter Store furloughed thousands of employees, was raided by federal investigators, and was accused of coding violations by former employees, the company filed for bankruptcy court protection. The Scooter Store is currently the subject of a federal investigation regarding potential healthcare fraud after an independent audit revealed that the company had overbilled Medicare and Medicaid between $46.8 million and $87.7 million.
The owner and CEO of Chicago’s Sacred Heart Hospital and four of its doctors were arrested last week in connection with an alleged Medicare kickback scheme in which the doctors performed unnecessary tracheotomies.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced last week that Amgen Inc., a California-based biotechnology company, has agreed to pay $24.9 million to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act. The settlement resolves allegations that Amgen paid kickbacks to various long-term care pharmacy providers – Omnicare Inc., PharMerica Corporation and Kindred Healthcare Inc. – in exchange for “therapeutic interchange” programs designed to switch Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries from a competitor drug to Aranesp, a drug used to treat anemia that is developed, manufactured, and sold by Amgen.
Capitol Supply Co., a Florida-based office supply company, is currently the subject of a federal investigation into whether the company has been improperly selling products made in China in violation of the Trade Agreements Act and the Justice Department recently joined a pending False Claims Act lawsuit, in which the company is accused of selling illegal office products to the government.
A cardiologist with offices in New York and New Jersey pleaded guilty on April 10 to charges of healthcare fraud, according to the US Attorney for New Jersey. In pleading guilty, Jose Katz admitted that he fraudulently billed Medicare Part B, Medicaid, and numerous private insurers more than $70 million for unnecessary tests and procedures, including unnecessary prescriptions of EECP (enhanced external counterpulsation), that were based on the false diagnoses and medical services provided by unlicensed practitioners. Katz is scheduled to be sentenced in July and his charges carry a maximum total sentence of 15 years, along with fines and restitution.
The First Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed the dismissal of a False Claims Act case against Millennium Laboratories. The lawsuit – U.S. ex rel. Estate of Robert Cunningham v. Millennium Laboratories of California Inc. – alleges that the company engaged in excessive testing of patients’ responses to chronic pain medications. A district court judge dismissed the case in January 2012, finding that the case was barred because a previous lawsuit between Millennium and a competitor contained public disclosures similar to the allegations in the lawsuit. But, on April 12, the First Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision and remanded the case for further review.
Please contact us at (312) 863-7222 if you would like to learn more about any of the aforementioned whistleblower news updates or would like to schedule a free, confidential appointment with one of our nationally recognized whistleblower attorneys.