Baltimore, Maryland – United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur announced that Saiontz & Kirk, P.A., a Baltimore-based law firm, has paid the United States $91,406.98 to resolve allegations that it failed to reimburse Medicare for conditional payments that had been made to medical providers on behalf of firm clients.
“Plaintiffs’ attorneys cannot refer a case to or enter into a joint representation agreement with co-counsel and simply wash their hands clean of their obligations to reimburse Medicare for its conditional payments,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “We intend to hold attorneys accountable for failing to make good on their obligations to repay Medicare for its conditional payments, regardless of whether they were the ones primarily handling the litigation for the plaintiff.”
According to the settlement agreement, over a number of years, Medicare made conditional payments to healthcare providers to satisfy medical bills for firm clients. Under the Medicare statute and regulations, Medicare is authorized to make conditional payments for medical items or services under certain circumstances, with the requirement that when an injured person receives a tort settlement or judgment, those receiving the proceeds of the settlement or judgment, including the injured person’s attorney, are required to repay Medicare for the conditional payments.
During that period, the firm referred clients to or entered into joint representation agreements with co-counsel on four of the six matters about which the U.S. Attorney’s office contacted the firm. The government contends that the firm, either itself or together with co-counsel, negotiated for and received settlement proceeds for the firm’s clients, but neither the firm nor its clients repaid Medicare for conditional payments that Medicare made to medical providers.
The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations. The settlement is not an admission of liability by Saiontz & Kirk, P.A., nor a concession by the United States that its claims are not well founded.
This settlement reminds attorneys of their obligation to reimburse Medicare for conditional payments after receiving settlement or judgment proceeds for their clients. This is no less true for plaintiffs’ attorneys who refer cases to co-counsel or jointly represent plaintiffs.
U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur commended Eric Wolfish, Assistant Regional Counsel, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the General Counsel, Region III, for his work in the investigation. Mr. Hur also thanked Assistant United States Attorney Alan C. Lazerow, who handled the case.
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