A recent piece of federal legislation intended to address the opioid crisis across the United States may have some unintended consequences. In attempting to prohibit “patient brokering” in the narrow context of addiction treatment and recovery centers, Congress may have unwittingly passed an unprecedented expansion of federal prosecutorial authority over payment arrangements between providers and referral sources for private-pay patients. For the reasons discussed in this blog post, any individual or entity who provides services relating to addiction treatment or recovery (as well as all clinical laboratories, regardless of whether they provide any addiction treatment or recovery services) should examine their arrangements with all referral sources for private-pay patients, even those who do not refer patients for addiction treatment or recovery services.

On October 24, 2018, the President signed into law the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act (the “SUPPORT Act”), as discussed here. The SUPPORT Act consolidated a number of opioid-related bills, including the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act of 2018 (EKRA), which was intended to address the problem of “patient brokering” in the context of treatment centers and sober homes.

Continue Reading The Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act: An Unprecedented Expansion of Anti-kickback Liability to Private-Pay Referrals?

The FCA continues to be the federal government’s primary civil enforcement tool for investigating allegations that healthcare providers or government contractors defrauded the federal government. In the coming weeks, we will take a closer look at recent legal developments involving the FCA. This week, we examine recent court decisions considering relators’ efforts to plead and prove falsity under the FCA by relying on a worthless services theory of liability.

The Seventh Circuit’s decision in U.S. ex rel. Absher v. Momence Meadows Nursing Center, Inc., 764 F.3d 699 (7th Cir. 2014), casts significant doubt on the “worthless services” theory of FCA liability. Following the Seventh Circuit’s ruling in Momence, courts have reaffirmed the high hurdle that relators must surmount in order to plead a “worthless services” claim under the FCA.

Continue Reading FCA Deeper Dive: Worthless Services as a Theory of Falsity