Hope Cancer Institute, a cancer treatment facility in Kansas, and Dr. Raj Sadasivan, the owner of Hope Cancer Institute, have agreed to pay $2.9 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by submitting claims to Medicare, Medicaid and the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program for drugs and services that were not provided to beneficiaries, the Department of Justice announced today.
“Billing Medicare and Medicaid for drugs that are not provided to beneficiaries contributes to the soaring costs of health care,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery. “Providers will be investigated aggressively and held accountable for falsely billing federal health care programs.”
The settlement resolves allegations that, between 2007 and 2011, Sadasivan and Hope Cancer Institute submitted claims to federal health benefit programs for the chemotherapy drugs Rituxan, Avastin and Taxotere that were not provided to federal health care beneficiaries. Sadasivan allegedly instructed the employees of Hope Cancer Institute to bill for a predetermined amount of cancer drugs at certain dosage levels, when lower dosages of these drugs were actually provided to beneficiaries. As a result of these instructions, Hope Cancer Institute submitted inflated claims to federal health care programs for drugs that were not actually provided to patients.
“Health care providers that try to make a quick buck by billing taxpayers for services never provided will instead pay a high price for their greed-fueled fraud," said Gerald T. Roy, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. “We are dedicated to investigating and prosecuting these types of deceptive schemes.”
The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by Krisha Turner, Crystal Dercher and Amanda Reynolds, former employees of Hope Cancer Institute, under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private citizens with knowledge of false claims to file suit on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery.
This settlement illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and marks another achievement for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced in May 2009 by Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. The partnership between the two departments has focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud through enhanced cooperation. One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act. Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $19.1 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $13.6 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.
The settlement with Sadasivan and Hope Cancer Institute was the result of a coordinated effort among the Justice Department’s Civil Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. The False Claims Act suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas and is captioned United States ex rel. Turner et al. v. Hope Cancer Institute, et al.
The claims settled by this agreement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.