Archives: Stark Law

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Physician Compensation Scrutiny Continues in Recent FCA Settlement

A hospital system in Missouri recently agreed to settle with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) for $34 million to resolve claims related to alleged violations of the Stark Law. On May 18, 2017, DOJ announced a settlement agreement with Mercy Hospital Springfield (Hospital) and its affiliate, Mercy Clinic Springfield Communities (Clinic). The Hospital and … Continue Reading

A Hospital’s Deserving Stark and AKS Victory—But At What Cost?

This April, providers cheered when a federal district court in the Middle District of Florida found insufficient evidence to support a relator’s theory that a hospital had provided free parking to physicians, in violation of the Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS). In the Report and Recommendation for United States ex rel. Bingham v. BayCare … Continue Reading

Is the Stark Law’s “Signed Writing” Requirement Material to Payment: One Federal Court Says Yes

In a case of first impression, a federal court found that the federal physician self-referral law’s (Stark Law) requirement that financial arrangements with physicians be memorialized in a signed writing could be material to the government’s payment decision. This case raises troubling questions about applying the False Claims Act (FCA) to what many in the … Continue Reading

Relators Denied Permanent Seal on FCA Case Record after Voluntary Dismissal

On March 20, 2017, the US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi denied a motion to permanently seal the record of previously dismissed False Claims Act (FCA) claims.  The three relators, who initially brought the claims in US v. Apothetech Rx Specialty Pharmacy Corp., claimed they would face potential reputational damage and retaliatory … Continue Reading

CMS Reissues Stark Rules Restricting Certain Unit-based Rental Rate Arrangements and Issues Two Stark Updates

On November 15, 2016, as part of its 2017 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule update, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services reissued its prohibition on certain unit-based rental arrangements with referring physicians, adopted updates to the list of CPT/HCPCS codes defining certain of the Stark Law’s designated health services and implemented a minor technical change … Continue Reading

Old Dog, New Tricks: Fraud and Abuse in the Age of Payment Reform

The good, reassuring news about that “old dog” fraud and abuse as it enters an age of payment reform is that criminal liability for fraud still requires a specific intent to defraud the federal health care programs, anti-kickback liability still requires actual knowledge of at least the wrongfulness, if not the illegality, of the financial … Continue Reading

One Year Later: The Yates Memo, False Claims Act and Director & Executive Liability

On September 19 and 27, 2016, the US Department of Justice announced two False Claims Act settlements that required corporate executives to make substantial monetary payments to resolve their liability. In the first, announced on September 19, North American Health Care Inc. (NAHC) and two individuals—its chairman of the board and a senior vice president … Continue Reading

Congress Examining Stark Law Reform This Year

On July 12, 2016, the US Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to “examine ways to improve and reform the Stark Law” as a follow up to releasing a white paper on June 30 titled Why Stark, Why Now? Suggestions to Improve the Stark Law to Encourage Innovative Payment Models. The white paper summarizes comments … Continue Reading

OIG Issues New Exclusion and CIA Guidance

On April 18, 2016, Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson announced the publication of updated guidance on how the Office of Inspector General (OIG) makes decisions about using its permissive exclusion authority and requiring integrity obligations when presented with a False Claims Act (FCA) settlement. This document is noteworthy not only to defendants in FCA cases … Continue Reading

Ten Years Later — The End of Tuomey’s Journey

In October 2005, Dr. Michael Drakeford filed his qui tam against Tuomey Healthcare System alleging Stark Law and False Claims Act violations. After ten years of investigation and litigation, including two jury trials, two trips to the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and a staggering judgment of $237 million, on October 16, 2015, the … Continue Reading

Huge Stark Law Hospital Settlements and Physician Culpability – The New Normal Post-Tuomey?

After the federal government’s victory against Tuomey Hospital, we have seen an increasing number of large False Claims Act (FCA) settlements with hospitals involving Stark Law allegations. Despite the intricacies of Stark Law compliance, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has not shown much leniency in its treatment of these cases, as shown by two … Continue Reading

Adventist Health System Settles Stark Law & FCA Matters

Adventist Health System (Adventist) entered into a settlement agreement with the United States and with the states of Florida and North Carolina on September 21, 2015, resolving Stark Law issues that Adventist disclosed regarding a certain physician employment compensation model and certain other financial arrangements.  The settlement agreements also fully resolve the allegations in two … Continue Reading

Can Satisfying A Regulatory Requirement Now Equate To Providing Illegal Remuneration?

Defending False Claims Act litigation is often a costly budget item. The disposal of weak cases by the government through the intervention decision making process has always been a critical safety valve for non-culpable defendants. Two of the more concerning trends in False Claims Act litigation, however, are (1) the increasing likelihood of relators pursuing … Continue Reading

Overview of Recent Stark Law Developments

There has been a flurry of judicial and administrative activity regarding the Stark Law in recent weeks, bringing both promises of reprieve for the health care industry in complying with the technicalities of the law, and reminders of the need for executive vigilance when evaluating and approving transactions with referring physicians. On July 15, 2015, … Continue Reading

Recent Appellate Developments in “Implied Certification”

We have previously written several articles regarding the circuit courts’ application of the so-called “implied certification” theory of liability under the False Claims Act (FCA). That theory is the subject of a petition for certiorari in the case of United States v. Triple Canopy, on which we have previously reported. Under the implied certification theory, … Continue Reading

Fourth Circuit Upholds Judgment of Over $237 Million against Tuomey Healthcare System

On July 2, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina’s judgment of $237,454,195 in damages and penalties against Tuomey Healthcare System in United States ex rel. Drakeford v. Tuomey Healthcare System, Inc. (No. 13-2219).  The judgment followed a rare False Claims … Continue Reading

Court Upholds CMS’ Prohibition on ‘Under-Arrangements’ Transactions, Strikes Down CMS’ Prohibition on ‘Per-Click’ Equipment Rental Arrangements

A 2008 rule change from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS)—which effectively prohibited referring physician-owned companies from furnishing hospital services “under arrangements”—has withstood a challenge by a urology trade association. On June 12, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) held in Council for Urological Interests v. … Continue Reading

New Fraud Alert Shows OIG Focus on Physicians

On June 9, 2015, the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (OIG) issued a new fraud alert concerning physician compensation arrangements and compliance with the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS). While the fraud alert itself does not break new ground interpreting the AKS, it signals OIG’s steadily increasing scrutiny and enforcement … Continue Reading

Seventh Circuit Broadly Interprets “Referral” Under AKS

On February 10, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit broadly interpreted the term “referral” in the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS), in a decision that could have significant implications for health care professionals.  The court held that a physician makes a “referral” under the AKS when he or she makes a “certification … Continue Reading

FCA Whistleblower Litigation Remains a Potent Threat to Health Care Providers

With the Department of Justice’s recently announced 2014 statistics, the United States has recovered nearly $23 billion from False Claims Act (FCA”) litigation since 2009.  The overwhelming majority of these cases – 753 of 846 cases initiated in 2013 – are qui tam cases, filed by whistleblowers.  Health care providers, in particular, constitute a large … Continue Reading
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