Detroit Medical Center, Vanguard Health Systems, and Tenet Healthcare Corporation Agree to Pay Over $29 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations
DETROIT - Dr. Victor Savinov, a medical doctor who practices and resides in the Eastern District of Michigan, has agreed to pay the United States $50,000 to resolve allegations that in 2009 he received remuneration in exchange for referring Medicare patients to third-party-owned home health agencies, announced United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison.
Ison was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Mario Pinto, United States Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General.
The allegations arose from a lawsuit filed in 2009 by whistleblowers, Ruqiayah Madany and John Collins, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. Under the False Claims Act, private citizens can bring suit on behalf of the government for false claims and potentially share in any recovery. After the United States conducted its own investigation, it intervened and commenced litigation in the qui tam case in 2014. The original qui tam complaint named over 30 defendants, and the United States has either settled with or obtained judgments against most of those defendants. In March 2022, the Court granted the United States summary judgment against two defendants and awarded the United States nearly $40 million in damages and penalties.
This settlement resolves allegations that Dr. Savinov received kickbacks in the form of a credit card payment, free office space, and free use of a medical assistant in exchange for his referral of Medicare patients to home health agencies. The United States contends that the claims for payment were rendered false because they were tainted by Dr. Savinov’s receipt of unlawful kickbacks, in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b(b). The whistleblowers will receive $11,000 in connection with this settlement.
“The Anti-Kickback Statute was designed to ensure doctors make medical decisions based on the best interest of their patients,” said U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison for the Eastern District of Michigan. “Kickbacks threaten to corrupt that decision-making process, and our Office is prepared to pursue anyone who fails to abide by the rules that safeguard the integrity of the Medicare program.”
“The payment of kickbacks to induce referrals can undermine the trust in our nation’s providers and result in costly reductions to our federal health care programs," said Special Agent in Charge Mario M. Pinto of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of
Inspector General. “We will continue to work together with our law enforcement partners to ensure the appropriate use of taxpayer dollars as well as pursue medical providers engaging in improper financial relationships.”
The matter was handled by Assistant United States Attorneys John Postulka and John Spaccarotella from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.
The case is docketed as United States ex rel. Madany and Collins v. Petre, et al., No. 09-cv-13693. The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.