Unfortunately, many physicians believe their activities are “under the radar” when it comes to fraud and abuse enforcement. A recent settlement announcement by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services illustrates that this is not the case. According to the press release, the OIG has entered into a $7.3 million settlement with three physician-owned entities, United Shockwave Services, United Prostate Centers, and United Urology Centers, for allegedly soliciting and receiving payments in violation of the federal anti-kickback statute.
Among other things, the OIG alleged that certain of the physician investors in the entities had suggested to hospital administrators that if the hospitals did not enter into contractual arrangements to utilize the entities’ services, the physicians would take their cases to other hospitals. In addition to the $7.3 million settlement, the entities also agreed to a five-year corporate integrity agreement under which an independent reviewer will monitor all of the contractual arrangements between the entities and any hospital in Illinois, Iowa and Indiana.
This recent settlement underscores the need for physicians and physician organizations to get serious about their compliance efforts. All indications are that we will be seeing more and more enforcement actions against physicians in the months to come.