WASHINGTON, D.C. — A $3.8 million settlement has been reached between the federal government and Philadelphia-based Vascular Access Centers LP, over allegations the company engaged in a referral kickback scheme and false Medicare billing.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Vascular Access Centers and its 23 subsidiary and related corporations (collectively VAC), billed Medicare for vascular access surgical procedures on end state renal disease (ESRD) beneficiaries without the required medical documentation. In addition, VAC made false claims to Medicare, which came from improper referrals from physician investors and medical directors, the DOJ said.
“Medicare patients with end stage renal disease, like other beneficiaries, are entitled to receive care in accordance with their clinical needs and not based on the financial interests of healthcare providers,” DOJ Civil Division assistant attorney general Joseph Hunt said in a statement. “Entities and individuals that attempt to profit through improper financial incentives and thereby bypass independent clinical decision-making will be held accountable.”
“Medicare fraud hurts not only patients and honest practitioners but all taxpayers who pay hard-earned dollars into the nation’s public fisc,” added Eastern District of Louisiana U.S. attorney Peter Strasser.
According to the DOJ, VAC has agreed to pay a minimum of $3.825 million in fixed payments over five years and could owe up to $18.36 million if certain contingencies are triggered.