Qui Tam Whistleblower Rewards Paid October 2016
In October the Department of Justice announced settlements of cases that were brought under the qui tam or whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act (FCA). The “qui tam” provision allows private citizens to file lawsuits alleging false claims on behalf of the government. If the government prevails in the action, the whistleblower is eligible to receive a share of monies recovered. The settlements below resolved allegations originally brought by whistleblowers using this provision.
Best Choice Home Health Care Agency Inc. (Best Choice) and its owner, Reginald King, have agreed to pay $1.8 million to resolve allegations that Best Choice and King violated the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks for the referral of Medicaid-covered patients for home and community-based healthcare services from Best Choice. Best Choice is a home healthcare services provider based in Kansas City, Kansas. King is the owner and operator of Best Choice.
The whistleblower reward in this case will be $43,178 which represents 10 percent of the federal share of the settlement, minus the amount that the relator received in kickbacks during the duration of the scheme.
Life Care Centers of America Inc. (Life Care) and its owner, Forrest L. Preston, have agreed to pay $145 million to resolve a government lawsuit alleging that Life Care violated the False Claims Act by knowingly causing skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) to submit false claims to Medicare and TRICARE for rehabilitation therapy services that were not reasonable, necessary or skilled. Life Care, based in Cleveland, Tennessee, owns and operates more than 220 skilled nursing facilities across the country.
The settlement was based on the company’s ability to pay. Two whistleblowers Tammie Taylor and Glenda Martin, former Life Care employees will share the $29 million whistleblower reward in this case.
The nation’s largest nursing home pharmacy, Omnicare Inc., has agreed to pay $28.125 million to resolve allegations that it solicited and received kickbacks from pharmaceutical manufacturer Abbott Laboratories in exchange for promoting the prescription drug, Depakote, for nursing home patients. CVS Health Corporation, which is headquartered in Rhode Island, acquired Ohio-based Omnicare in 2015, approximately six years after Omnicare ended the conduct that gave rise to the settlement.
As part of the settlement, the whistleblower Meredith McCoyd, a former Abbott employee, will receive $3 million from the federal share of the settlement amount.
A major U.S. hospital chain, Tenet Healthcare Corporation, and two of its Atlanta-area subsidiaries will pay over $513 million to resolve criminal charges and civil claims relating to a scheme to defraud the United States and to pay kickbacks in exchange for patient referrals.
In addition, two Tenet subsidiaries, Atlanta Medical Center Inc. and North Fulton Medical Center Inc., have agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay health care kickbacks and bribes in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS). The plea agreements remain subject to acceptance by the court. Up until April 2016, Atlanta Medical Center Inc. and North Fulton Medical Center Inc. owned and operated acute-care hospitals located in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area.
In the civil settlement, Tenet agreed to pay $368 million to the federal government, the state of Georgia and the state of South Carolina to resolve claims asserted in United States ex rel. Williams v. Health Mgmt. Assocs., Tenet Healthcare, et al., a lawsuit filed by Ralph D. Williams, a Georgia resident, in the Middle District of Georgia, under the federal and Georgia False Claims Acts. The federal share of the civil settlement is $244,227,535.30, the state of Georgia will recover $122,880,339.70 and the state of South Carolina will recover $892,125. Mr. Williams’ share of the combined civil settlement amount is approximately $84.43 million.