July 28, 2021
Kickbacks, False Claims and Billing for a Suspended Doctor
- by Sean Weiss, Partner & VP of Compliance
This is another example of just bad-actors and the violation of oath providers take to “Do no harm.” In August 2018, Prime and Dr. Prem Reddy paid $65 million to settle allegations of false claims and overbilling. (link) That settlement resolved allegations from 2006 through 2013.
Now Prime, Dr Reddy and Dr. Siva Arunansalam agreed to a settlement to pay $37.5 million to settle allegations of kickbacks, billing for a suspended physician and false claims. Why are they still allowed to engage in healthcare? To me, this is just weak on the part of the DOJ in that “in connection with the settlement, Prime and Dr. Reddy entered into a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). The CIA requires, among other things, that Prime maintain a compliance program and hire an Independent Review Organization to review arrangements entered into by or on behalf of its subsidiaries and affiliates”.
“The settlement resolves allegations that:
1. Prime paid kickbacks when it overpaid to purchase Dr. Arunasalam’s physician practice and surgery center because the company wanted Dr. Arunasalam to refer patients to its Desert Valley Hospital in Victorville, California. The purchase price, which was substantially negotiated by Dr. Reddy, exceeded fair market value and was not commercially reasonable. Prime also knowingly overcompensated the doctor when HDHVI (High Desert Heart Vascular Institute) entered into an employment agreement with him that was based on the volume and value of his patient referrals to Desert Valley Hospital;
2. For approximately two years between 2015 and 2017, HDHVI and Dr. Arunasalam used Dr. Arunasalam’s billing number to bill Medicare and Medi-Cal for services that were provided by Dr. George Ponce, even though they knew Dr. Ponce’s Medicare and Medi-Cal billing privileges had been revoked, and that billing Dr. Ponce’s services under Dr. Arunasalam’s billing number was improper; and
3. Certain Prime hospitals billed Medi-Cal, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs for false claims based on inflated invoices for implantable medical hardware. Dr. Arunasalam was not implicated in this conduct.”
What to do next…
- If you need help with an audit appeal or regulatory compliance concern, contact us at (800) 635-4040 or via email at [email protected].
- Read more about our: Total Compliance Solution
Why do thousands of providers trust DoctorsManagement to help improve their compliance programs and the health of their business?
Experienced compliance professionals. Our compliance services are structured by a chief compliance officer and supported by a team that includes physicians, attorneys and a team of experienced auditors. The team has many decades of combined experience helping protect the interests of physicians and the organizations they serve.
Quality of coders and auditors. Our US-based auditors receive ongoing training and support from our education division, NAMAS (National Alliance of Medical Auditing Specialists). All team members possess over 15 years of experience and hold both the Certified Professional Coder (CPC®) as well as the Certified Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA®) credentials.
Proprietary risk-assessment technology – our auditing team uses ComplianceRiskAnalyzer(CRA)®, a sophisticated analytics solution that assesses critical risk areas. It enables our auditors to precisely select encounters that pose the greatest risk of triggering an audit so that they can be reviewed and the risk can be mitigated.
Synergy – DoctorsManagement is a full-service healthcare consultancy firm. The many departments within our firm work together to help clients rise above the complexities faced by today’s healthcare professionals. As a result, you receive quality solutions from a team of individuals who are current on every aspect of the business of medicine.