WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced Dec. 1 that Pine Creek Medical Center LLC (Pine Creek), a Dallas/Fort Worth physician-owned hospital, will pay $7.5 million after allegations of violating the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks for surgical referrals.
“The United States Attorney’s Office, in coordination with our partners at Main Justice and HHS-OIG, have and will continue to aggressively pursue those that violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, regardless of the nature or form that the kickback takes,” said Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas. “We must hold individuals and entities responsible for improperly furthering their financial interests at the expense of the federal health care programs.”
According the Justice Department, the kickbacks took the form of providing marketing services. Between 2009 and 2014, Pine Creek would pay for marketing services on physicians’ behalf. To return the favor, physicians would refer patients to the hospital.
“Hospitals that try to boost their profits by paying kickbacks to physicians will instead pay for their improper conduct,” said special agent in charge C.J. Porter of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General’s Dallas region. “We will continue to investigate such illegal business arrangements that undermine impartial medical judgment.”