Wheeling Hospital in West Virginia recently agreed to pay $50 million to the federal government to settle a whistleblower case alleging improper kickbacks and payments to doctors that were directed by hospital management.
The settlement concluded a case that dates back to 2017, filed by former hospital executive vice president Louis Longo. Longo will receive $10 million for his role in the case.
In his lawsuit, Longo claimed the hospital’s payments to physicians violated federal law, as millions of dollars in excess compensation were based on the value or number of patient referrals. There were some physicians who were alleged to have received more than $1 million a year due to the illegal kickback system.
According to information from the Department of Justice, the illegal actions occurred from 2007 to 2020 under the direction of R&V Associates Ltd. And former Chief Executive Officer Ronald Violi.
These types of arrangements are illegal because such kickbacks can improperly influence the type or amount of healthcare that is provided to patients. Physicians should not be financially incentivized to deliver certain types of care, or care to certain types of patients.
The settlement also comes at a time of financial turbulence for the hospital, which announced some significant staff reductions in July, and which posted an $11 million loss in the 2019 fiscal year before losses of more than $18 million this year as of September.
If you are aware of any form of healthcare fraud, it is important you take action to report what you know. Healthcare fraud has an impact of billions of dollars each year. For more information about how to proceed, contact an experienced whistleblower lawyer at Kardell Law Group.