Kan-Di-Ki LLC, formerly known as Kan-Di-Ki Inc., doing business as Diagnostic Laboratories and Radiology (Diagnostic Labs), will pay $17.5 million to settle allegations that the California-based company violated the federal and California False Claims Acts by paying kickbacks for referral of mobile lab and radiology services subsequently billed to Medicare and Medi-Cal (the state of California’s Medicaid program), the Justice Department announced today.
“This settlement demonstrates the Department of Justice’s continuing efforts to protect public funds,” said Stuart F. Delery, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. “We will continue to work with our state partners to recover misspent monies from companies that abuse government health care programs.”
Diagnostic Labs allegedly took advantage of Medicare’s different reimbursement system for inpatient and outpatient services by charging Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) in California discounted rates for inpatient services paid by Medicare in exchange for the facilities’ referral of outpatient business to Diagnostic Labs. For inpatient services, Medicare pays a fixed rate based on the patient’s diagnosis, regardless of specific services provided. For outpatients, Medicare pays for each service separately. Diagnostic Labs’ scheme enabled the SNFs to maximize profit earned for providing inpatient services by decreasing SNFs’ costs of providing these services. It also allegedly allowed Diagnostic Labs to obtain a steady stream of lucrative outpatient referrals that it could directly bill to Medicare and Medi-Cal. The provision of inducements, including discounted rates, to generate referrals is prohibited by federal and state law.
“When medical facility owners illegally offer discounts to customers to generate business, it results in inflated claims to government health care programs and increases costs for all taxpayers,” said Glenn R. Ferry, Special Agent in Charge for the Los Angeles Region of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General. “This $17.5 million settlement demonstrates OIG’s ongoing commitment to safeguarding federal health care programs and taxpayer dollars against all types of fraudulent activities.”
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 Health and Human Services Secretary 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 $16.6 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $11.8 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.
This settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by former Diagnostic Lab employees, Jon Pasqua and Jeff Hauser, under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the federal and state False Claims Acts. The acts allow private citizens with knowledge of fraud to bring civil actions on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery . Together, Pasqua and Hauser will receive $3,755,500 as their share of the federal government’s recovery.
The investigation was jointly handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, the Justice Department’s Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General.
The qui tam case is captioned United States and State of California ex rel. Pasqua et al. v. Kan-Di-Ki LLC f/k/a Kan-Di-Ki Inc. d/b/a Diagnostic Laboratories and Radiology, Civ. Action No. 10 0965 JST (Rzx) (C.D. Cal.). The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.