WellBound of Memphis, which is owned by dialysis provider Satellite Healthcare, has agreed to pay $3,246,000 to settle charges that it provided services to patients on home dialysis that were in violation of anti-kickback statutes.
The Tennessee State Attorney General’s Office, which announced the settlement on Jan. 29, alleged that from 2016 to 2018, WellBound filed claims with Medicare, Tricare and Tenncare that were false – in part due to illegal inducements paid by WellBound to physicians associated with its clinic to refer patients.
The allegations were first raised in a lawsuit filed against WellBound, which provides home dialysis training and treatments, and others under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, which permits parties to sue on behalf of the government for the submission of false claims and share in the recovery.
“Protecting the health and safety of Medicare patients is one of our primary concerns,” D. Michael Dunavant, United States Attorney General for the Western District of Tennessee, said in a press release. “When medical providers break the law by defrauding the government by providing illegal inducements in violation of the anti-kickback statute, we will use our resources to combat this fraud and hold them accountable.”
This investigation was conducted by the HHS Office of the Inspector General, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee State Attorney General’s Office.
“When physicians receive financial incentives in exchange for patient referrals, it distorts medical decision-making and freezes out competition,” Derrick L. Jackson, special agent in charge at the HHS Office of Inspector General in Atlanta, said in the release. “This settlement sends a strong message that Medicare and Medicaid patients are not for sale.”