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Fla. imaging clinic to pay $3M over Medicare kickback claims

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | June 09, 2011
The Justice Department said Wednesday a Florida imaging clinic and its former owners have agreed to pay $3 million to settle allegations they submitted false claims to Medicare and engaged in a kickback scheme with referring physicians.

The civil suit was brought by two whistle-blowers, radiologists who had worked at Midtown Imaging LLC, a West Palm Beach clinic. Its former owners are Midtown Imaging P.A. and PBC Medical Imaging.

Under the provisions in the False Claims Act that let whistle-blowers share in the recovery, the two doctors, Dr. Teresa M. Cortinas and Dr. Walter E. Wojcicki, stand to receive $600,000.

The lawsuit alleges that the clinic submitted false claims to Medicare from 2000 to 2008 and entered into leasing and professional services agreements with referring doctors and physician groups that violated the Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark Laws. The Anti-Kickback Statute prevents providers from paying doctors for referrals for services or products covered by Medicare and Medicaid, and the Stark Laws prevent providers from referring for services at clinics they have an improper financial relationship with.

"We are deeply satisfied with today's settlement and encourage potential whistleblowers to come forward with evidence of wrongdoing affecting the Medicare program," Wifredo Ferrer, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said in a statement.

Since 2009, the Justice Department has used the False Claims Act to recover more than $5.7 billion in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.

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