Georgia Cancer Specialists (GCS), one of the nation’s largest oncology specialists, will pay the federal government $8 million to resolve Medicare fraud claims involving what a judge called a “sophisticated kickback scheme.”
The whistleblowers who helped initiate the case will receive the maximum 30 percent award for reporting the fraud and assisting the federal government in its investigation.
The False Claims Act lawsuit dates back to 2011 when a pair of whistleblowers, nurse Natalie Raven and pharmacist Christy Curtis, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the federal government. In the lawsuit, the whistleblowers claimed GCS regularly solicited and received kickbacks from Option Care (an infusion pharmacy and provider of medical equipment) for more than a decade, later also adding Amedisys (a Medicare nursing company) to its scheme. All three companies, according to the claim, maintained inappropriate financial relationships with GCS physicians.
Option Care and Amedisys would pay kickbacks to GCS in the form of free or reduced price (below market value) home health coordination services. They would also pay the salary of GCS nurses who provided such services or furnish their nurses to function as GCS dedicated home health coordinators.
In exchange for these benefits, GCS would refer oncology patients to those companies for services. This, according to the lawsuit, was a violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Stark Law.
Healthcare fraud costs the U.S. government billions of dollars every year, and those are only the cases that get caught. In many circumstances, it is only through the valuable assistance of whistleblowers that the fraud is discovered and punished.
For more information about how you can blow the whistle on healthcare fraud and share in the financial recovery, contact an experienced whistleblower lawyer at Kardell Law Group.