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2 Whistleblower Radiologists Share $600,000

June 10, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Medical Ethics, Practice Management
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Two radiologists will share $600,000 for revealing alleged Medicare fraud being committed by the radiology clinic that employed them, Midtown Imaging of West Palm Beach, Florida.

InĀ  news release dated Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice said the clinic and its former owners, Midtown Imaging PA and PBC Medical Imaging, have agreed to pay $3 million to resolve allegations that the clinic violated the False Claims Act.

The Justice Department said the clinic was accused of submitting the false claims to Medicare from 2000 through 2008. The claims were deemed false because, the Justice Department said, the clinic entered into “certain leasing and professional services agreements with referring physicians and physician groups that violated the Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark Law.”

The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits any remuneration in exchange for referrals of items or services covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or any other federally funded program except the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

The package of laws known collectively as the Stark Law restricts physicians from referring Medicare and Medicaid patients to facilities or services in which the physicians have a financial interest.

Teresa M. Cortinas, MD, and Walter E. Wojcicki, MD, who were working at Midtown Imaging as radiologists, filed suit against the business in 2009 under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. The law allows private citizens who know of fraud against the government to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the government and share in any recovery.

In this case, Drs. Cortinas and Wojcicki received one fifth of the settlement, or $600,000.

Wilfredo Ferrer, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, was quoted in the news release as saying:

We are deeply satisfied with today’s settlement and encourage potential whistleblowers to come forward with evidence of wrongdoing affecting the Medicare program.

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