Oncology Therapy Center in High Desert Pays $3 Million to Resolve Allegations of Providing Radiation Treatments without Doctor Present
LOS ANGELES – A Lancaster-based radiation therapy center has paid $3 million to resolve allegations that it submitted fraudulent bills over a nearly 10-year period to three government-run healthcare programs for unsupervised radiation oncology services.
Valley Tumor Medical Group paid $2,865,693 to the United States and $134,307 to the State of California on April 13 to resolve allegations in a “whistleblower” lawsuit that it submitted fraudulent bills to the Medicare, Medi-Cal and TRICARE programs.
The civil action, United States ex rel. Shindler v. Valley Tumor Medical Group, et al., CV 15-2249, was unsealed and dismissed on April 20 by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner. The government learned of the unsealing late yesterday.
From January 3, 2006 through November 13, 2015, Valley Tumor’s radiation therapists allegedly administered radiation oncology treatments at Valley Tumor’s Ridgecrest location to beneficiaries of the three government healthcare programs when no doctor was on-site at the center, which is required by federal regulations. Valley Tumor closed its Ridgecrest location in early 2016.
Valley Tumor was named in a federal “whistleblower” lawsuit filed in 2015 that alleged the company and its doctor-owners knowingly submitted false claims to the Medicare, Medi-Cal and TRICARE programs. The lawsuit was brought by a former Valley Tumor employee under the qui tam – or whistleblower – provisions of the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to bring suit on behalf of the government and share in any recovery. The whistleblower, Jared Shindler, received $555,000 from the settlement.
Valley Tumor did not admit liability in settling the lawsuit.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. The settlement was finalized by Assistant United States Attorney Linda A. Kontos of the Civil Fraud Section.