WASHINGTON – Janzen, Johnston & Rockwell Emergency Medicine Management Services Inc. (JJ&R), a provider of billing services for physicians, hospitals and other health care providers, has agreed to pay the United States $4.6 million to settle allegations that it submitted false claims to Medicare and Louisiana’s Medicaid program, the Justice Department announced today. JJ&R is headquartered in El Segundo, Calif.
Today’s settlement resolves allegations that JJ&R inflated claims that it had coded on behalf of emergency room physicians in Louisiana and California. From approximately 2000 through 2007, JJ&R utilized a coding formula that had a tendency to generate claims for a marginally higher level of evaluation and management service than the physicians had actually provided. In addition, JJ&R routinely added charges to the evaluation and management claim for minor services, such as pulse oximetry, that had been provided by hospital nursing staff or other physicians.
Finally, during this time period, JJ&R often failed to comply with Medicare’s coding rules governing the submission of claims for teaching physicians, resulting in the submission of claims that were not properly payable. While these coding practices had a relatively small impact on the reimbursement of any particular claim, over time they generated significant overpayments from Medicare and Medicaid.
“Inflating individual health care claims by even small amounts can cause significant losses to Medicare and Medicaid,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “Taxpayers should not be on the hook for charges that shouldn’t have been added or claims that shouldn’t have been submitted.”
“ In Louisiana’s Middle District we are committed to using all available tools, including affirmative civil actions, to combat health care fraud,” said Donald J. Cazayoux Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama.
“The Office of the Inspector General recognizes and appreciates the importance of whistleblowers in the fight against health care fraud,” said William W. Root, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Today’s settlement resolves allegations that were the subject of a federal investigation and a lawsuit brought by Le Jeanne Harris, a former employee of JJ&R. The lawsuit was filed under the False Claims Act, which enables private persons to sue on behalf of the United States, and to receive a share of any recovery. In this case, Ms. Harris will receive $774,450.
This matter was handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana, as well as HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the Commercial Litigation Branch - Fraud Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. HHS-OIG investigated the matter.
This resolution is part of the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and another step for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced by Attorney General Eric Holder and Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of HHS, in May 2009. 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 that effort is the False Claims Act, which the Justice Department has used to recover more than $5.9 billion since January 2009 in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs. The Justice Department’s total recoveries in False Claims Act cases since January 2009 are more than $7.5 billion.