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The former owners and former chief radiologist of a New York chain of MRI facilities have agreed to pay a total of $3.57 million to settle allegations that they submitted false claims to the federal health care programs Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE.

Parties to the settlement were Imagimed LLC; its former owners, William B. Wolf III and Timothy J. Greenan, MD (a radiologist and the company’s former medical director); and its former chief radiologist, Steven Winter, MD. The company does business under the name Open MRI. The U.S. Justice Department announced the settlement last week in a news release.

The Justice Department accused Imagimed, Wolf, and Drs. Greenan and Winter of submitting claims from July 1, 2001, through April 23, 2008, for contrast dye MRI scans performed without the direct supervision of a physician. Federal regulations require such supervision because of the dye’s possible side effects, including anaphylactic shock.

Also, the Justice Department said, from July 1, 2005, through April 23, 2008, the accused “submitted claims for services referred to Imagimed by physicians with whom Imagimed had improper financial relationships.” The news release said:

In exchange for these referrals, Imagimed entered into sham on-call arrangements, provided preauthorization services without charge, and provided various gifts to certain referring physicians, in violation of the Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute.

The Justice Department said Imagimed was based in New York, but Bloomberg Businessweek says its headquarters is in Rockville, Maryland. The department also said Imagimed had 15 MRI facilities, mostly in New York. The Imagimed Web site lists 14 locations, in Amsterdam, Brewster, Eastchester, Elmira, Fayettteville, Hopewell Junction, Hudson, Middletown, New Hartford, Rye, Tarrytown, and Yorktown Heights, all in New York; Williamsport, Pennsylvania; and Germantown, Maryland. All use the name Open MRI.

Patrick Lynch, MD, described by the Justice Department as “a local radiologist,” filed the initial lawsuit as a whistle-blower under the False Claims Act. He will receive $565,500 from the settlement.

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