A West Palm Beach, Fla. radiology practice will pay the U.S. government $3 million to settle charges that it submitted false Medicare claims as part of illegal service agreements with referring physicians. A pair of radiologists who initiated the investigation will receive a $600,000 settlement.
In 2009, Midtown Imaging, at the time owned by Midtown Imaging P.A. and PBC Midtown Imaging, was sued by two of its radiologists, Teresa M. Cortinas, MD, and Walter E. Wojcicki, MD. Cortinas and Wojcicki alleged that the practice had violated the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Stark Law, which prohibit compensation for physician referrals.
Cortinas and Wojcicki filed their suit under the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act, which entitled them to share $600,000 of the government’s $3 million settlement.
“We are deeply satisfied with today’s settlement and encourage potential whistleblowers to come forward with evidence of wrongdoing affecting the Medicare program,” said Wifredo Ferrer, JD, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. “We are committed to fighting fraud and abuse to help preserve scarce Medicare funds for those who need it the most, the sick and the elderly.”
The settlement was part of a stepped-up partnership between the U.S. Department of Justice, handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which conducted the investigation. The Justice Department has recovered $5.7 billion in federal healthcare fraud funds under the False Claims Act since 2009.