By: Allan M. Siegel
The U.S. Department of Justice recently announced that Fort Myers, Florida-based
cancer treatment provider 21st Century Oncology will pay $34.7 million
to settle allegations that it billed Medicare for medically-unnecessary
procedures. The lawsuit was initially filed under the
whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which allows individuals to work with an attorney and
recover a share of a verdict or settlement.
The whistleblower in this case was Dr. Joseph Ting, a former physicist
who came forward and revealed the company’s fraud against the taxpayer-funded
Medicare and TRICARE programs. Under the terms of the agreement, Dr. Ting
will be awarded more than $7 million for blowing the whistle on healthcare
fraud. The whistleblower lawsuit alleged that 21st Century Oncology performed
a medical procedure on patients called the Gamma function where it served
no legitimate medical purpose. The Gamma function procedure measures radiation
emitting from patients after cancer treatments. The lawsuit alleged that
21st Century billed for these procedures before doctors and radiation
physicists had been trained to interpret and use results from the Gamma
function. Dr. Ting stated that he refused to perform the unnecessary tests
and quit his position.
The False Claims Act outlaws fraudulent billing of
Medicare and other taxpayer-funded
health care programs. It also provides financial incentives for whistleblowers to
work with private attorneys to bring credible claims of financial fraud
against taxpayer-funded programs.
This $34.7 million settlement follows on the heels of another multimillion-dollar
settlement paid by 21st Century Oncology. In December 2015, 21st Century
Oncology paid $19.75 million to settle allegations that it billed Medicare
for medically-unnecessary laboratory urine tests. The whistleblower lawsuit
also alleged physicians were paid cash bonuses based on how many tests
21st Century has four locations in Maryland - Greenbelt, Salisbury, Berlin,
and Bel Air. The healthcare company is a wholly owned subsidiary of South
Florida Radiation Oncology, LLC. If, like Dr. Joseph Ting, you have credible
information relating to healthcare fraud committed upon taxpayer-funded
programs like Medicare, TRICARE, and Medicaid, please
contact the whistleblower attorneys with Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.
Under the law, whistleblowers are eligible for a cash reward of between
15 and 30 percent of a settlement or verdict in a False Claims Act claim.
Because strict deadlines and first-to-file requirements may apply to filing
a whistleblower claim, we recommend contacting us at your earliest convenience.
Consultations are prompt and confidential.