On July 28, 2016, the Department of Justice announced a $17 million settlement in the matter of United States ex rel. Hammett v. Lexington County Health Services District, Case No. 3:14-cv-03653 (D. S.C.).1 The lawsuit resolved allegations that Lexington County Health Services District, Inc. d/b/a Lexington Medical Center (“LMC”) in West Columbia, SC violated the Stark Law and False Claims Act by acquiring physician practices or employing twenty-eight (28) physicians on terms that were in excess of fair market value and on terms that were not commercially reasonable.

The case was filed on September 15, 2014, and DOJ declined to intervene on September 16, 2015. Relator then continued with the case, resulting in the recently announced settlement.  As part of the settlement, LMC also entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General.


Continue Reading SC Hospital Pays $17 Million to Resolve FCA Claims of Improper Physician Employment Relationships

On October 16, 2015, Tuomey Healthcare agreed to pay more than $74 million to resolve a $237 million judgment in a long-standing FCA matter that had threatened to bankrupt the nonprofit hospital. The action, styled U.S. ex rel. Drakeford v. Tuomey Healthcare Systems, Inc., No. 05-2858 (D.S.C.), involved FCA allegations that Tuomey employed and

What do the recent multimillion dollar FCA settlements tell healthcare providers about physician compensation arrangements? Standing alone, these settlements are cautionary examples of arrangements that may subject hospitals and physicians to increased scrutiny. These settlements, however, come on the heels of the recent OIG fraud alert – “Physician Compensation Arrangements May Result in Significant Liability,”

In a welcomed move, CMS has proposed changes to the federal physician self-referral law (Stark Law) designed to improve consistency and interpretability and alleviate the number of technical violations leading to self-disclosures. This move is in stark (pun-intended) contrast to the stringent interpretation of the Stark Law by the Fourth Circuit in its decision in

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of a relator’s qui tam lawsuit under the FCA’s public disclosure bar and, in doing so, concluded that the ACA’s amendments to the public disclosure bar created grounds for dismissal for failure to state a claim, rather than for lack of jurisdiction.  In U.S. ex rel. Osheroff v. Humana, Inc., the relator alleged that various Florida-based clinics and health insurers violated the FCA through the provision of various services to patients as kickbacks designed to induce and influence the patients’ healthcare decision-making.  Defendants pointed to allegations in state court litigation and news media as publicly disclosing the allegations upon which the relator based his qui tam lawsuit, and the district court agreed.
Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Refines Public Disclosure Bar Standards