Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Whistle blower profiled in AP story

Jim Alderson, a whistle blower who reported Medicare fraud by the health care giant Columbia/HCA, was profiled in an Associated Press story.

Alderson was the chief financial officer at a hospital in Montana when he learned about the fraud. The government recovered $1.7 billion in fines and penalties in suits against Columbia/HCA (now HCA) and a related company. Alderson received $20 million as his reward in one suit and split $100 million in the other.

The story appeared in the November 29, 2004 issue of the New York Times.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Whistleblower suit against abusive nursing home settles

Maxwell Manor nursing home of Chicago has agreed to settle a False Claims Act suit alleging that they billed the government for inadequate or worthless services.

Abuse and neglect was said to be pervasive at the home, which was closed in June 2000 after inspectors found unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

Maxwell Manor will pay $1.9 million to settle the case.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported on the settlement on November 23, 2004.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Gold Banc to pay $16 million in FCA whistle-blower case

Gold Banc, a Kansas banking company, has agreed to pay $16 million to settle a suit alleging it charged excessive interest rates and fees on federally guaranteed agricultural loans.

The case was brought by whistleblower Roger Ediger, a former farmer and Gold Banc loan customer. Gold Banc was accused of violating the False Claims Act by charging rates and fees on loans subject to Farm Service Agency programs that were higher than those charged typical farmers.

Reuters reported on the settlement on November 19, 2004.

Construction company settles False Claims Act alleging fraud in embassy construction

Perini Corporation, a Massachusetts-based construction contractor, will pay the United States $998,500 to resolve claims that the company inflated its request for compensation for delays in construction. The U.S. Dept. of State had contracted with Perini for the construction of an embassy in Caracas, Venezuela. The company filed a claim for more that $8 million to compensate it for delays it claimed were the government's fault. The government claimed this amount was inflated by $2 million.

The State Department issued a press release on November 18, 2004.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

McKesson unit to plead guilty and pay $7.4 million fine

TBC Products, an indirect subsidiary of drug wholesaler McKesson Corp., has agreed to plead guilty to attempting to obstruct a federal audit. It will pay $7.4 million as a fine and civil settlement.

Federal agents had been investigating Medicare fraud in southern Illinois. TBC admitted giving undercover agents invoices that made it look like McKesson was charging for tube-feeding pumps that were free. This paperwork made it possible for nursing homes to bill taxpayers for the free pumps.

Reuters reported on the settlement on November 12, 2004.

McKesson also signed a five-year corporate integrity agreement with the Department of Health & Human Services.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Diebold settles False Claims Act suit over voting machines

Diebold has agreed to pay the state of California $2.6 million to settle claims that it falsely certified the security of its electronic voting machines, misleading six counties into buying the machines.

The whistleblowers in the suit had sought as much as $57 million in damages. The California False Claims Act allows for treble damages and California and Alameda County had spent $19 million on the machines.

The settlement must still be approved by the court.

The proposed settlement agreement can be found at the California Attorney General's website.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Oregon doctor settles False Claims Act case on billing for drug samples

Urologist G. Craig Kiser has agreed to a settlement with the Oregon Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney. Kiser was charged with improperly billing Medicare and Medicaid for drugs received as free samples from the manufacturer. He will pay $213,198 and enter into a compliance program

The case grew out of the investigation into TAP Pharmaceuticals' marketing of the drug Lupron. TAP had been accused of providing free samples to physicians and encouraging them to submit claims for reimbursement.

The Bend Bugle reported on the settlement on November 9, 2004.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Chicago considers qui tam ordinance

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley will propose new ordinances to protect whistleblowers from retaliation and provide a financial incentive for people to report contract fraud.

The qui tam ordinance is patterned after state and federal laws that allow private citizens to bring suits against contractors who defraud the city.

The proposals come in the wake of the Hired Truck scandal. Under the Hired Truck Program, the city spent about $40 million a year on private dump trucks to work alongside city crews. An investigation found that many of those trucks did little or no work.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported on the developments on November 3, 2004.

PolyMedica to pay government $35 million in fraud settlement

PolyMedica Corp., a medical supply company, has reached a tentative $35 million settlement with the federal government over alleged Medicare fraud. The company was alleged to have shipped diabetes test strips to people who did not order tham and did not reimburse Medicare for returned packages.

The Associated Press story appeared in the November 3, 2004 issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Florida obstetrician settles Medicaid fraud case

Thomas Armbruster, a West Pasco, Florida obstetrician, will pay $577,000 to settle charges that he billed Medicaid for birthing services that were performed by nurse midwives. In addition to representing that he had actually provided the services, Armbruster allegedly billed Medicaid for higher levels of service than the patients actually received.

The Tampa Tribune reported on the settlement on October 13, 2004.