WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced Sept. 11 that Family Medicine Centers of South Carolina LLC (FMC) will pay $1.56 million after allegations of violating the False Claims Act through physician kickbacks. 

Additionally, FMC’s principal owner and former chief executive officer, Dr. Stephen F. Serbin, and its former laboratory director, Victoria Serbin, will pay $443,000.

“Financial arrangements that compensate physicians for referrals can sometimes encourage physicians to make decisions based on financial gain rather than patient needs,” said acting assistant attorney general Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. 

“The Department of Justice is committed to preventing illegal financial relationships that undermine the integrity of our public health programs and drive up the cost of healthcare for taxpayers.”

According to allegations, FMC submitted claims to the Medicare program that violated the physician self-referral prohibition, commonly called the Stark Law. The law’s goal is to ensure that physicians make medical decisions based on medical need and not based on financial incentive.

“Health care decisions should be made by physicians based on medical science and not with regard to maximizing the doctor’s own income,” said U.S. attorney Beth Drake for the District of South Carolina. “Our goal in bringing this case was not only to recover money for improper health care claims, but also to deter similar conduct and promote health care affordability.”

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