WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The Department of Justice has announced Respironics Inc. will pay $34.8 million to resolve allegations it violated the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks to suppliers that bought its services.

“The payment of illegal remuneration in any form to induce patient referrals threatens public confidence in the health care system,” said principal deputy assistant attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Americans deserve to know that when they are prescribed a device to treat a serious health care problem, the supplier’s judgment has not been compromised by illegal payments from equipment manufacturers.”

The Anti-Kickback Statute bars companies from knowingly paying remuneration to induce referral of services that are paid for by United States-sponsored programs like Medicare, Medicaid or TRICARE. According to the department, Respironics violated the statute and the False Claims Act when it provided free call center services to durable equipment suppliers that bought its sleep apnea masks.

“Medical equipment manufacturers that boost profits by providing kickbacks to suppliers will be held accountable for their improper conduct,” Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, said. “We will continue to investigate such business arrangements, which threaten the integrity of federal health care programs.”

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