NJ Medical Center Settles FCA Suit for Making IllegalKickbacks to Hillsborough Cardiology Group
The Somerset Medical Center agreed to pay $435,640 to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statute by paying inflated rents in exchange for referrals. According to the Department of Justice, the medical agency was paying extra rent to a cardiology group.
The U.S. government alleges that, from Oct. 1, 2006 to Sept. 30, 2013, Somerset Medical Center paid rents to Hillsborough-based Medicor Cardiology which far exceeded fair market value. In addition, it is alleged that the Somerset Medical Center illegally billed Medicare for services performed on patients who were unlawfully referred by the cardiology group.
Paul J. Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, was outraged by the actions of both medical groups. “Making inflated rental payments to induce referrals is no better than slipping a doctor an envelope stuffed with cash,” he declared in a statement. “Kickback arrangements undermine the physician-patient relationship and can lead to unnecessary treatment and higher costs. There is no room in our healthcare system for hospitals that abuse federal healthcare programs to boost their bottom line.”
Authorities also accused the Somerset medical group of making illegal kickbacks to Respacare, a Bridgewater lung and sleep center, in exchange for patient referrals. Authorities also allege that the group paid two internists in the form of reduced rent for space they leased from the Somerset Medical Center.
The case was brought forth by two hospital employees under qui tam protection, which means their employer, the Somerset Medical Center, could not retaliate against them for blowing the whistle. The employees each received a $50,000 reward to cover attorney fees and general expenses, according to the court’s filing.
As part of the settlement, the Somerset Medical Center did not admit any wrongdoing or liability.
The qui tam attorneys at Begelman & Orlow, P. C. have more than 115 years of combined experience litigating whistleblower cases throughout the U.S. If you have knowledge of any fraudulent activity, contact the whistleblower lawyers at Begelman & Orlow, P. C..