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Walgreens Agrees to Pay $269 Million to Settle Two FCA Suits

George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On January 22, 2019, Walgreens agreed to pay more than $269 million to settle allegations of False Claims Act (FCA) violations for overbilling of various drugs. The deals are some of the largest pay-outs ever by a retail pharmacy, according to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).

The Two Settlements.

There were two separate complaints involving Walgreens to settle federal and state lawsuits that accused the pharmacy of overbilling federal healthcare programs. Both were unsealed by U.S. District Court judges in Manhattan, according to the DOJ.

In the first settlement, Walgreens agreed to pay $209.2 million to the U.S. and several state governments for improperly billing Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs. The pharmacy is accused of excessive dispensing of insulin pens to beneficiaries who didn’t need them, according to U.S. officials. It reaped improper payments by understating the amount of treatment days covered by supplies of insulin pens. That allowed it to bill for prescriptions that should have been denied as premature, the DOJ said. Click here to visit our website and read the complaint and the stipulation for the first settlement.

In the second settlement, Walgreens agreed to pay $60 million to settle claims of overbilling Medicaid programs through bogus Medicaid price reporting. The retail pharmacy never disclosed or charged the lower drug prices it offered the public through a pharmacy discount program.

According to the DOJ, Walgreens obtained inflated reimbursement amounts because it failed to disclose discounted drug prices in its “Prescription Savings Club.” However, federal prosecutors said Walgreens didn’t disclose the discounted drug price when filing for reimbursement from Medicaid. Click here to visit our website and read the complaint and stipulation for the second settlement.

There are two whistleblowers in the insulin pen case, they will receive a roughly 19 percent cut of the $41 million portion of the settlement that will go to state, a reward of close to $8 million for blowing the whistle. The whistleblower in the Medicaid price reporting case, will receive a $11.4 million reward, according to his attorney. Not bad for a days work!

Walgreens released a statement, saying it was glad to have the matters resolved but admitted to no wrongdoing.

This isn’t the first time Walgreens has been involved in an FCA lawsuit. Click here to read one of my prior blogs on a similar case.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Qui Tam or Whistleblower Cases.

Attorneys with The Health Law Firm represent physicians, nurses and other health professionals who desire to file a False Claims Act (whistle blower or qui tam) case. This case just shows that even physicians can and should bring such claims and be rewarded for their whistle blowing activities. However, the attorneys of The Health Law Firm also defend physicians, medical groups and health facilities who have been sued in False Claims Act (whistle blower or qui tam) cases or have had administrative or civil complaints filed against them to recover civil monetary penalties. We have developed relationships with recognized experts in health care accounting, health care financing, utilization review, medical review, filling, coding, and other services that assist us in such matters. We have represented doctors, nurses and others as relators in bringing qui tam or whistle blower cases, as well.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Overley, Jeff. “Walgreens Pays $269M In Milestone FCA Deals.” Law360. (January 22, 2019). Web.

Thomas, Patrick. “Walgreens to Pay $269 Million on Claims It Overcharged Federal Programs.” WSJ. (January 22, 2019). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2019-01-29T20:53:27+00:00January 29th, 2019|Pharmacy Law Blog|0 Comments

The Most Common Cases The Health Law Firm Takes

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

One of the most common questions we get asked by doctors and lawyers alike, is about the types of cases our firm takes. They often mistake the practice of health law as medical malpractice defense. However, this is an incorrect assumption. Likewise, if we had a penny for every time we have heard “Yikes, an attorney! I hope I never need you,” we could close our doors and all retire.

As a general health law practice, we concentrate on both proactive and defensive legal issues and clients involved in the health care industry. To a certain extent our law firm does practically everything a physician, medical group, health facility or health care professional could need in the legal arena.

The types of cases we most commonly see are the following:

1. Sales, mergers and acquisitions of medical practices, health care clinics, and health facilities. We represent buyers, sellers and lenders at any stage of the process.

2. Contracts for medical and health care transactions. We prepare contracts, review contracts, negotiate contracts, help to terminate or break contracts, and we litigate contracts. We can be on either side of these transactions. Our litigation can take place in state court or federal court. We review and analyze quite a few employment contracts for medical residents and fellows going to new positions.

3. We research and prepare complex legal opinion letters on proposed health care transactions. The health care industry is the most regulated industry in the United States. There are complex layers of both federal and state laws and regulations as well as numerous federal and state agencies regulating it. Often, legal opinion letters are sought by purchasers and lenders for healthcare transactions for these reasons. We have several board certified health lawyers in our firm who have written dozens of these.

4. We represent health professionals and health facilities in Medicare audits, including fraud audits by the Zone Program Integrity Contractors (ZPICs) and by Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs). This includes representation in the appellate process, including requests for reconsideration, request for redetermination, and federal administrative law judge hearings. Preparation of the response to the audit request, completion of the audit questionnaire, response to the preliminary audit report (PAR), and defense of any repayments demanded, through administrative hearings before federal administrative law judges and appeals if necessary.

5. We represent health professionals and health facilities in Medicaid audits, including fraud audits by the zone program integrity contractors (ZPICs). This includes preparation of the initial response to the audit request, completion of the audit questionnaire, response to the preliminary audit report (PAR), and defense of any repayments demanded, through administrative hearings and appeals if necessary.

6. If there has been an action by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to terminate the Medicare provider’s billing privileges, we aggressively represent them to have the decision reversed and have them reinstated. This includes filing requests for reconsideration and corrective action plans (CAPs). We have been very successful in obtaining relief for our clients.

7. We have represented a number of clinical investigators, primarily physicians, and defensive charges of research fraud, misconduct in science, manipulation of data, manipulating outcomes, in research investigations, and other similar proceedings brought by their institutions or and investigation review board. Whether it is at the initiation of such an investigation or in later hearings and appeals, we have navigated a number of principal investigators through these processes.

8. Our firm has represented a number of medical students, residents and fellow, including foreign medical graduates, in cases brought by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) in cases where there is an allegation of “irregular behavior” and rules violations through the hearing process and in appeals as necessary.

9. We represent physicians and other health professionals in hospital medical staff peer review proceedings and hearings. Whether it’s the initial application for clinical privileges and medical staff membership or action being taken to revoke or limit clinical privileges, we have been involved representing physicians and other health professionals at all levels. We have also done similar work for physicians in actions initiated by HMOs, professional associations, certification bodies, and other organizations. This is an area where a physician truly needs a health lawyer experienced in this type of proceeding.
10. “Disruptive physician” defense is another area where a doctor really needs an attorney who knows what he or she is doing. When your hospital or medical staff is attempting to place the label on you “disruptive physician,” you are really in trouble. This is an area in which careful navigation is required to prevent actions that result in such a label. Other wise, the physician can be pigeon-holed for life, placed into disruptive physician programs requiring years, if not a lifetime, of close monitoring and can even have discipline commenced against his or her medical license. We can assist you in taking actions to avoid having this happen.

11. When you receive a Medicare, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), or Office of the Inspector General (OIG) subpoena or civil investigative demand (CID), you know there is serious trouble for someone in the works. We help you to respond promptly and professionally and attempt to keep you from becoming the target of serious federal investigations.

12. We represent physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists and other licensed health professionals in responding to Department of Health (DOH) letters of investigation. Many physicians, nurses, dentists and other licensed health professionals do not understand that when they receive a letter from the Department of Health complaints advising them that they are under investigation for a complaint that is been made against them, this is a very serious matter. There is nothing that is “routine” about this. This means that there is an investigation that has been opened against your license that could ultimately result in disciplinary action being taken against you. Any disciplinary action taken against you will be on your license forever. This is the time to obtain an attorney. This is not a time to attempt to represent yourself. You should not ever speak with the investigator or provide a statement to the investigator; this is something only your attorney should do and only if it is determined to be advisable considering the facts of the case. We have represented hundreds of licensed health professionals in such investigations and in subsequent disciplinary hearings.

13. We also represent health professionals and others who have been excluded from the Medicare program and placed on the Office of Inspector General (OIG) List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE). We have represented a number of healthcare professionals in completing and submitting applications to be removed from the LEIE and reinstated to the Medicare program.

14. We routinely counsel and represent physicians, dentists, psychologists, mental health counselors, and other health professionals in referrals to the Professionals Resource Network (PRN) for evaluation. We have found that often the health professional will not actually have any type of substance abuse problem or mental health issue. However, one referred for an evaluation to the PRN can wind up in a five year contract or even a lifetime contract for monitoring containing many mandatory requirements in order to continue practicing his/her profession and a lot of expenses associated with meeting such requirements.

15. We also routinely counsel and represent nurses and nurse practitioners (ARNPs), including certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) in similar referrals to the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN). We have found that often the nurse will not actually have any type of substance abuse problem or mental health issue. However, one referred for an evaluation to the IPN can wind up in a five year contract or even a lifetime monitoring contract containing many mandatory requirements in order to continue practicing his/her profession and a lot of expenses associated with meeting such requirements.

16. We have been involved in a number of qui tam or whistle blower cases, either representing the whistle blower or representing an employer or institution that is being accused of wrongdoing. Whether this is pursuant to the Federal False Claims Act (FCA), a state false claims act or a private whistle blower act, we are experienced in investigating, prosecuting, defending, and litigating such cases in state or federal court.

17. Our firm represents physicians, pharmacists, health professionals and health facilities in administrative litigation against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and the Department of Health, among other agencies. Whether the government agency is seeking to recover civil monetary penalties (CMP), attempting to recover large Medicare overpayments, seeking to revoke your DEA registration or seeking to discipline your medical license, we have experience in litigating such matters in these administrative tribunals. This can make the difference between a favorable outcome or a devastating outcome.

18. We represent Veterans Administration (VA) physicians, Army physicians, Navy physicians, Air Force physicians, and Indian Health Service physicians, in employment disputes, peer review investigations and hearings, clinical privileging investigations and hearings, and decisions to report to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB).

19. Reporting a conviction for Driving under the influence (DUI) or some other criminal offense is required by most state licensing agencies. We are experienced in making such reports when required and in such a manner that a subsequent investigation and discipline on the professional license is often avoided.

20. Complex litigation involving health professionals is another area in which we routinely practice. Whether the matter involves a dispute between the shareholders of a medical clinic or practice, restraints on trade, allegations of false claims and fraud, the enforcement or avoidance of restrictive covenants (or covenants-not-to-compete), employment, pay and bonus disputes, ownership of practices or facilities, or any other of a number of different situations, we represent either side in state court or federal court.

21. Because of our experience in mental health law, we have come to represent individuals who have been incorrectly confined in mental health facilities in Florida because of allegations of impairment, drug abuse, mental health issues and other issues in which the person is initially though to be a threat to himself or to others. Both law enforcement authorities and medical personnel are being trained to take fewer chances with an individual acting unusual who may tend to hurt herself or someone else. They often tend to err to the side of ordering confinement under the Florida Mental Health Act (also known as the “Baker Act”). When this happens, the individual may be set for a long stay unless he or she has assistance in navigating the way out. We help doing this as quickly and expeditiously as possible.
22. We routinely representing physicians, pharmacists, nurses, dentists and other licensed health professionals in attempting to avoid or in disputing or in appealing adverse National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) Reports. There are only limited grounds for doing this so the professional needs to obtain counsel as early in the process as possible.

23. Any type of subpoena or search warrant from a government agency or law enforcement organization seeking your patient records can herald an investigation into false claims, over-prescribing, or other serious possible charges, criminal, civil or administrative. Our representation seeks to determine the reasons for this as early in the process as feasible and to protect your rights and limit your exposure as much as possible.

24. There are many, many other types of cases which we have experience with. To see some of these others, please visit our website.

As the business of health care grows, our law firm also grows. We are always seeking to expand our areas of practice within the health law field. Be sure to check back regularly for updates.

For more information on various health law topics and how The Health Law Firm can help you, visit our YouTube page to watch our video blogs.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) investigations, Medicare Audit defense, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2019-01-28T23:57:45+00:00January 28th, 2019|Massage Law Blog|0 Comments

Cheating, Irregular Behavior and Other Challenges Facing Medical Students and Graduates

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The road to becoming a physician is paved with many unique challenges. The long, exhausting journey begins and students are faced with the first battle: rigorous undergraduate course work, followed by the MCAT and medical school applications. During medical school, and for some, after graduation, the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) and its STEP 1, STEP 2 and STEP 3 exams provide another hurdle in the uphill battle. At any of these stages, medical students can face a gauntlet of accusations including cheating, misrepresentation, falsification of information, unfair advantages and the many faces under the general label of “irregular behavior.”

Challenges Prior to Entering Medical School.

Prior to medical school, pre-med students must be ambitious, inquisitive and extra cautious about any disciplinary action. A minor blemish on a pre-med student’s academic record (from academic dishonesty or other accusations), will become a major red flag once that student begins applying. Not only will any kind of discipline record hinder a student’s chances of acceptance, an infraction can also ruin that student’s reputation as they apply for residency and beyond.

Because the process of becoming a physician is difficult without having a discipline record, any charge against a pre-med student must be taken with the upmost seriousness. Don’t raise a white flag early on in the uphill battle!

Challenges After Medical School.

The battle continues for medical students; medical school courses and clinical rotations will be rigorous and challenging, calling on every neuron you possess to fire efficiently. You will be tested, in more ways than one. You will forget the term “MCAT” and substitute for it a new acronym–“USMLE” which stands for United States Medical Licensing Examination.

The USMLE is a four stage examination required for medical licensure in the United States. Because the USMLE is the barrier between you and your medical license, it is an extremely important component of your medical education.

One such issue is being accused of “irregular behavior.” This broad label includes anything from cheating to disruptions during testing or soliciting information on actual examination content. In the event that your test score is held up or invalidated due to irregular behavior you will want to correct the situation immediately, or you may be prohibited from taking future exams (meaning you won’t be able to obtain your license or a residency in the U.S.). If you are accused of irregular behavior or if you feel that you were faced with inadequate testing conditions, resolving the issue may be as simple as requesting a rescoring of the examination or a retest. Sometimes, because of problems at a test site or because of technical problems, retesting is an option.

The National Board of Medical Examiners and the USMLE take all such matters concerning the administration and the security of the test contents extremely seriously. In ceratin cases, they have sued those they believe may have compromised actual test contents. Click here to read more about the case.

After years of schooling, don’t allow an allegation of irregular behavior to mark your test transcripts and prevent you from attaining your goals and reaping the benefits of your hard work.

To learn more about USMLE, irregular behavior and how we can help you, click here to read one of my prior blogs.  Check our Medical Education Law Blog Regularly to stay on top of news and tips!

Contact a Health Care Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Medical Students, Interns, Residents and Applicants, Fellows and Those Involved in Graduate Medical Education.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent interns, residents, fellows and medical school students in disputes with their medical schools, supervisors, residency programs and in dismissal hearings. We have experience representing such individuals and those in graduate medical education programs in various disputes regarding their academic and clinical performance, allegations of substance abuse, failure to complete integral parts training, alleged false or incomplete statements on applications, allegations of impairment (because of abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol or because of mental or physical issues), because of discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and any other matters.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620

KeyWords: Graduate medical education (GME) defense attorney, international medical graduate attorney, graduate medical education defense lawyer, lawyer for medical students, medical resident physician attorney, residency program legal dispute, residency program litigation, medical school litigation, legal representation for medical residents, legal dispute with medical school, medical students legal counsel, disruptive physician attorney, impaired medical student legal counsel, impaired resident legal defense attorney, United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) defense lawyer, USMLE defense attorney, National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) defense counsel, Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) defense lawyer, ECFMG defense attorney, legal representation for USMLE investigations, legal representation for NBME investigations, legal representation for irregular behavior, irregular behavior defense attorney, irregular behavior defense counsel, health law attorney, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, Philadelphia attorney for ECFMG hearing, Philadelphia lawyer for NBME hearing, Philadelphia legal counsel for USMLE hearing

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2019-01-28T22:56:06+00:00January 28th, 2019|Medical Education Law Blog|0 Comments

DOJ Announces $2.8 Billion Recovered Funds From Healthcare Cases in 2018

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 21, 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it recovered more than $2.8 billion from False Claims Act (FCA) (also known as “qui tam” or “whistleblower cases”) cases in 2018. Of the $2.8 billion in settlements and judgments that the government obtained during the year through FCA cases, more than $2.5 billion involved health care fraud. These cases included drug and medical device manufacturers, managed care providers, hospitals, pharmacies, hospice organizations, laboratories, and physicians.

Health Care Fraud.

The DOJ’s largest recoveries involving the health care industry in 2018 came from the drug and medical device industry. In one example, AmerisourceBergen Corporation paid a whopping $625 million to settle charges filed under the whistleblower provisions of the FCA. The charges alleged that it illegally distributed misbranded drugs for cancer patients. Of that amount, $581.8 million was paid to the federal government and $43.2 million was paid to state Medicaid programs. Click here to read more on that.

Whistleblower Complaints.

Of the $2.8 billion recovered in 2018, more than $2.1 billion arose from lawsuits filed under the qui tam provisions of the FCA. The government paid out $301 million to the whistleblowers who exposed fraud and false claims by filing these actions. There was a total of 645 qui tam suits filed in 2018. Click here to see the DOJ’s 2018 statistics.  To view the DOJ’s press release on fraud for the fiscal year 2018, click here.

Health Care Fraud is a Serious Matter.

We have been consulted by many individuals, both before and after criminal convictions for health care fraud or related offenses. In many cases, those subject to Medicare fraud audits and false claims investigations refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of the matter. Some may even decide not to spend the money required for a highly experienced health attorney to defend them.

Click here to read one of my previous blog posts regarding health care fraud.

The government is serious about combating health care fraud. It created a Medicare Fraud Strike Force in March 2007, in an effort to further prevent and eliminate fraud and abuse of government health care programs. False claims are a growing problem in the program, costing the government billions of dollars each year. Accordingly, punishments for defrauding the system can be quite severe.

If you are accused of health care fraud, realize that you are in a fight for your life. Your liberty, property/possessions and profession are all at stake. Often it is possible to settle allegations of fraud by agreeing to pay civil monetary penalties and fines. If given such an opportunity, the Medicare provider should consider whether it is worth the risk of facing decades in prison. Be prepared to give up whatever you need to in order to avoid a conviction and preserve your liberty.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Health Care Fraud and Qui Tam or Whistleblower Cases.

The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent physicians, dentists, orthodontists, medical groups, clinics, pharmacies, assisted living facilities (AFLs), home health care agencies, nursing homes, group homes and other healthcare providers in Medicaid and Medicare investigations, audits and recovery actions.

Attorneys with The Health Law Firm also represent health care professionals and others who may desire to file a qui tam, False Claims Act or whistleblower suit. We work with physicians, nurses and other professionals to investigate, document and file such cases. We have developed relationships with recognized experts in health care accounting, health care financing, utilization review, medical review, filling, coding and other services that assist us in such matters. We have represented number of doctors and other licensed health professionals as relators in bringing qui tam or whistleblower cases. Our attorneys are also available to defend physicians, medical groups and health care providers in qui tam or whistleblower cases.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Bantz, Phillip. “US Justice Department Recovered $2.8 Billion From False Claims Act Cases in 2018.” Law.com. (December 28, 2018). Web.

“Health Care Dominates FCA Judgments and Settlements in 2018.” The National Law Review. (December 31, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

Keywords: healthcare fraud, healthcare fraud representation, healthcare fraud defense lawyer, Medicare fraud, legal representation for Medicare fraud, Medicare fraud defense attorney, legal representation for allegations of Medicare fraud, legal representation for health care fraud, legal representation for fraudulent billing, legal representation for allegation of defrauding the government, legal representation for submitting false claims, Medicare audit defense attorney, Medicare billing defense attorney, health care clinic fraud audit, legal representation for false billing, legal representation for Medicare audits, Medicaid fraud defense attorney, legal representation fr Medicaid fraud, legal representation for Medicaid audit, Medicaid audit defense attorney, Medicare and Medicaid investigation defense attorney, legal representation for Medicare and Medicaid investigations, OIG investigation defense attorney, legal representation for OIG investigations, False Claims Act (FCA), FCA attorney, FCA representation, FCA defense lawyer, whistleblower representation, whistleblower defense attorney, qui tam lawyer, qui tam defense attorney, qui tam representation, reviews of the Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, Health law defense attorney

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2019-01-17T01:11:46+00:00January 28th, 2019|Health Facilities Law Blog|0 Comments

Florida Governor: Crush Out Pot Smoking Ban

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On January 17, 2019, new Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that the Florida State Legislature should end its losing efforts to keep in place a ban on smoking medical pot or he will end the state’s defense of the “no smoking” policy in a pending lawsuit. The current lawsuit was brought because the state Legislature and former administration was taking the position that medical marijuana could not be smoked, despite the amendment to the Florida Constitution that was passed making medical marijuana legal. The constitutional amendment does not say anything at all about what the proper forms of medical marijuana could be, leaving most methods of ingestion open.

The new governor also indicated that he thinks the state should loosen the restrictive licensing requirements for medical marijuana treatment centers, requirements that include vertically integrated businesses and capping the number of retail outlets they can operate. He did not include, however, support for legalization of the drug’s recreational use.

The Fight for Florida’s Medical Marijuana Legislation.

In 2017, Governor Rick Scott signed, and Legislature passed, both the smoking ban and the current overly-restrictive licensing structure.  A circuit court judge ruled in May 2018, that the smoking ban is unconstitutional, but then Scott appealed the decision. Click here to read one of my prior blogs and learn more about the status of marijuana in Florida.

DeSantis indicated that he will direct state attorneys to move for a stay on any decision in the case until mid-March 2019. This will give the Legislature two weeks at the start of its annual session to pass legislation rescinding the ban, he said. If this does not happen, he said he will have the state drop its appeal of the decision, leaving the circuit court judge’s decision in place.

Make sure to check out our Marijuana Law Blog regularly to stay up to date on the changing laws and regulations. Also, visit our YouTube page and watch our Medical Marijuana Video Blog to learn more.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Farrington, Brenden. “Florida Governor Wants Ban on Smokable Medical Pot Ended.” U.S. NEWS. (January 17, 2019). Web.

Hale, Nathan. “Fla. Gov. Wants Legislature To Cut Medical Pot Smoking Ban.” Law360. (January 17, 2019). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone (407) 331-6620.

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By |2019-01-22T21:34:44+00:00January 22nd, 2019|marijuana law, Marijuana Law Blog|0 Comments

Law School Agrees to Drop Accreditation Suit

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On January 16, 2019, the Summit School of Law in Arizona (Arizona Summit) settled a lawsuit against the American Bar Association (ABA) over the decision to pull the law school’s accreditation. The for-profit law school, which is in the process of closing down, agreed to dismiss the suit with prejudice.

This matter may be of interest to those involved in medical education, because of the accreditation problems faced by some medical schools and recent actions taken to revoke the accreditation of or not accept the graduate from some foreign medical schools. There are lessons to be learned from this case.

“The ABA and the council welcome the end of this dispute. We look forward to continuing to serve the best interests of law students, the public, and the profession through the ABA law school accreditation process, which has consistently been upheld by courts and has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education,” Barry Currier, managing director of the ABA section that accredits and regulates law schools, said in a statement the ABA issued.

ABA Enforcement Actions.

Arizona Summit is one of three schools that filed suit against ABA’s enforcement actions, arguing that due process rights were violated before the decision to be put on probation. All three law schools, owned by InfiLaw Corp., sued the ABA in May 2018, regarding accreditation issues. Click here to view Arizona Summit’s compliant against the ABA in full.

Requirements For Law School Accreditation.

In June 2018, ABA decided to pull accreditation for Arizona Summit, saying it had fallen short of standards on student admissions and bar passage rates. ABA requires schools to see at least 75% of students pass the bar within five years. Additionally, passage rates for first-time bar takers are required to be within 15% of the school’s average in three of five years. You can learn more about ABA’s Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools here.

According to Arizona Summit’s Report for 2018, the school awarded 118 degrees that year. A total of 25 graduates took the state bar exam for the first time in July 2018, and their pass rate was 52%. A total of 98 graduates of the law school sat for that exam and the overall pass rate was 20.4%.

Therefore, the ABA pulled its accreditation stating that it had fallen short of standards on student admissions and bar passage rates. The school is scheduled to shut down for good in spring 2020.

Don’t Let Accreditation Issues Slow You Down!

We have often been contacted by medical students, resident physicians, fellows, and foreign medical graduates, when experiencing problems with their medical school or graduate medical education (GME) programs. Don’t wait until it is too late to think of consulting with an experienced healthcare attorney regarding possible solutions. Even when it may appear to be too late, it may not actually be too late to recover. Click here to read one of my prior blogs for more information on accreditation matters in graduate medical education (GME) programs.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys Today.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to medical students, resident physicians, and fellows in academic disputes, disciplinary cases, and disputes with their programs, schools, or institutions. These include graduate medical education (GME) hearings, contract negotiations, conduct committee hearings, charges of irregular behavior, issues with the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), the United States Medical Licensing Examinations (USMLE) and the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), license applications, board certification applications and hearings, credential hearings, and civil and administrative litigation.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Cueto, Emma. “For-Profit Ariz. Law School Drops ABA Suit Over Accreditation.” Law360. (January, 16, 2019). Web.

Ward, Stephanie. “Arizona Summit Law School agrees to drop its lawsuit against ABA.” ABA Journal. (Journal 16, 2019). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

DOJ Announces $2.8 Billion Recovered From Healthcare FCA Cases in 2018

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 21, 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it recovered more than $2.8 billion from False Claims Act (FCA) (also known as “qui tam” or “whistleblower cases”) cases in 2018. Of the $2.8 billion in settlements and judgments that the government obtained during the year through FCA cases, more than $2.5 billion involved health care fraud. These cases included drug and medical device manufacturers, managed care providers, hospitals, pharmacies, hospice organizations, laboratories, and physicians.

Health Care Fraud.

The DOJ’s largest recoveries involving the health care industry in 2018 came from the drug and medical device industry. In one example, AmerisourceBergen Corporation paid a whopping $625 million to settle charges filed under the whistleblower provisions of the FCA. The charges alleged that it illegally distributed misbranded drugs for cancer patients. Of that amount, $581.8 million was paid to the federal government and $43.2 million was paid to state Medicaid programs. Click here to read more on that.

Whistleblower Complaints.

Of the $2.8 billion recovered in 2018, more than $2.1 billion arose from lawsuits filed under the qui tam provisions of the FCA. The government paid out $301 million to the whistleblowers who exposed fraud and false claims by filing these actions. There was a total of 645 qui tam suits filed in 2018. Click here to see the DOJ’s 2018 statistics.  To view the DOJ’s press release on fraud for the fiscal year 2018, click here.

Health Care Fraud is a Serious Matter.

We have been consulted by many individuals, both before and after criminal convictions for health care fraud or related offenses. In many cases, those subject to Medicare fraud audits and false claims investigations refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of the matter. Some may even decide not to spend the money required for a highly experienced health attorney to defend them.

Click here to read one of my previous blog posts regarding health care fraud.

The government is serious about combating health care fraud. It created a Medicare Fraud Strike Force in March 2007, in an effort to further prevent and eliminate fraud and abuse of government health care programs. False claims are a growing problem in the program, costing the government billions of dollars each year. Accordingly, punishments for defrauding the system can be quite severe.

If you are accused of health care fraud, realize that you are in a fight for your life. Your liberty, property/possessions and profession are all at stake. Often it is possible to settle allegations of fraud by agreeing to pay civil monetary penalties and fines. If given such an opportunity, the Medicare provider should consider whether it is worth the risk of facing decades in prison. Be prepared to give up whatever you need to in order to avoid a conviction and preserve your liberty.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Health Care Fraud and Qui Tam or Whistleblower Cases.

The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent physicians, dentists, orthodontists, medical groups, clinics, pharmacies, assisted living facilities (AFLs), home health care agencies, nursing homes, group homes and other healthcare providers in Medicaid and Medicare investigations, audits and recovery actions.

Attorneys with The Health Law Firm also represent health care professionals and others who may desire to file a qui tam, False Claims Act or whistleblower suit. We work with physicians, nurses and other professionals to investigate, document and file such cases. We have developed relationships with recognized experts in health care accounting, health care financing, utilization review, medical review, filling, coding and other services that assist us in such matters. We have represented number of doctors and other licensed health professionals as relators in bringing qui tam or whistleblower cases. Our attorneys are also available to defend physicians, medical groups and health care providers in qui tam or whistleblower cases.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Bantz, Phillip. “US Justice Department Recovered $2.8 Billion From False Claims Act Cases in 2018.” Law.com. (December 28, 2018). Web.

“Health Care Dominates FCA Judgments and Settlements in 2018.” The National Law Review. (December 31, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2019-01-14T18:09:35+00:00January 14th, 2019|Pharmacy Law Blog|0 Comments

Colorado Jury Rules in Favor of Marijuana Grow Business in Federal RICO Lawsuit

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 14, 2018, a federal jury in Denver rejected claims involving the odor that was allegedly coming from a pot farm. This was a case that was being closely watched by the marijuana industry. The marijuana business had been sued for damages to neighboring property value under anti-racketeering laws.

Given the recent approval of medical marijuana in Florida, it seems likely that there would be “copy cat lawsuits” filed in Florida, as well. The only difference in Florida would be the long history of pig farm precedents that exist.

A Closely Watched Lawsuit.

This was an important suit for the marijuana industry because it was the first federal suit brought under federal anti-racketeering laws. If the lawsuit had been successful, it could have created a new blueprint for opponents of marijuana legalization to dismantle the industry through civil cases under RICO laws.

The couple who own and live on land adjacent to the grow facility said the facility damaged their property values because of noise and odor. Because it harmed their views, and because no one wants to live near illegal activity, they claimed damages of $1 million.

The grow facility argued during trial that it didn’t cause any odor; its odor-control system doesn’t vent outdoors.

After a short deliberation, the jury ruled in favor of the marijuana grow facility and found it was not responsible for any of the alleged damages. Attorneys that represent similar marijuana facilities said proving property damages in cases like these are very difficult and hope the outcome of this case will deter others from trying the same. Click here to read more on this case.

Click here to read one of my prior blogs.

It is unclear to me why the Plaintiffs in this case prosecuted the case under a RICO theory since such a cause of action is usually very difficult to prove. However, I am not aware of all the facts of the case. It seems to me that a simple suit for nuisance against the marijuana grow farm would have been easier to prove and obtain an injunction on.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Foody, Kathleen. “Colorado Lawsuit Could Ripple Through US Cannabis Industry.” Health News Florida. (October 30, 2018). Web.

Ingold, John. “Jury finds in favor of Colorado marijuana grow in closely watched federal lawsuit.” The Colorado Sun. (November 18, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Growing marijuana industry, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, complex health care litigation attorney, federal medical litigation attorney, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana decriminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm, complex medical business litigation lawyer, professional license dfense attorney, medical marijuana license defense lawyer

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2018-12-07T19:52:42+00:00December 28th, 2018|Marijuana Law Blog|0 Comments

OIG Exclusion: Do You Know if You’re on the List?

George F. Indest IIIBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health La

Have you ever faced a disciplinary action against your professional license? Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a criminal offense? If yes, then you may have also been terminated from the federal Medicare Program or your state Medicaid Program.

Many health care professionals don’t think about the repercussions that an exclusion action by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) can have on their professional career. Whether you are a physician, nurse, dentist, psychologist or other health professional, if you allow yourself to be excluded from the Medicare Program, devastating economic results may follow.

First, Check the List.

The first step is to check if you are on the federal government’s List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE). You can check that list here: http://exclusions.oig.hhs.gov/.

Next, to see if you are on Florida’s list of individuals and entities who have been terminated from Florida’s Medicaid Program, click here.

Collateral Consequences to OIG Exclusion or Termination.

Termination or exclusion can have many collateral consequences about which most health care professionals and providers are not aware. These Include:

– Termination for cause from all state Medicaid Programs.

– Loss of state professional licenses in other states and jurisdictions.

– Loss of hospital, ambulatory surgical center (ASC), and nursing home clinical privileges.

– Removal from the provider panels of health insurers.

– Loss of ability to contract or work for any individual or entity that contracts with the Medicare Program in any capacity. This includes physicians, medical groups, hospitals, healthcare systems, ambulatory surgical centers, skilled nursing facilities, health insurance companies, etc.

– Placement on the General Services Administration (GSA) Exclusions List (or “Debarred” List) from government contracting.

– Loss of ability to contract or work for any individual or entity that contracts with the federal government in any capacity.

To learn more on the consequences of being excluded, click here.

You’re On the List, Now What?

So, you just found yourself on a state’s excluded or terminated list or on the federal LEIE, don’t panic! All is not lost. There are ways to become reinstated.

The OIG exclusion list is a complicated regulatory program which requires experience and perseverance to navigate. It is highly recommended that you do not attempt to handle removal without qualified assistance. If your application is denied, even for hyper-technical reasons, you may be barred from reapplying for one full calendar year. Therefore, it is crucial that your application is complete and correct, and you are fully eligible for removal. To read a past blog about reinstatement after OIG removal, click here.

Contact Attorney Experienced in Defending Against Action to Exclude an Individual or Business from the Medicare Program and Assisting in Reinstatement Applications.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm have experience in dealing with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and defending against action to exclude an individual or business entity from the Medicare Program, in administrative hearings on this type of action, in submitting applications requesting reinstatement to the Medicare Program after exclusion, and removal from the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE).

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords:  Office of Inspector General, OIG, OIG exclusion list, OIG reinstatement representation, representation for physicians, representation for physician reimbursement, licensure defense attorney, professional license representation, licensure defense representation, representation for health care professionals, investigations analyst, applying for reinstatement, application for reinstatement, Medicare exclusion attorney, OIG hearing, request for reinstatement, removal from list of excluded individuals and entities (LEIE), application to OIG, Medicare reinstatement representation, Medicaid reinstatement representation, healthcare fraud lawyers, Medicare defense attorney, Medicaid defense lawyer, Florida defense attorney, Florida defense lawyer, The Health Law Firm reviews, health law blog, OIG Exclusion, healthcare fraud,

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2018-12-27T20:02:57+00:00December 27th, 2018|The Health Law Firm Blog|0 Comments

Florida Pharmacist Gets More Than Six Years in Prison For Role in Compounding Fraud Scheme

Attorney George F. Indest IIIBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 29, 2018, a Florida pharmacist was sentenced to six and a half years in prison and ordered to pay $3.4 million, for her role in a scheme to defraud the government. Marjorie Robinson pled guilty one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud for submitting fraudulent claims to Tricare, Medicare and private insurance programs for compounded creams that were not necessary.

The Fraud Scheme.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Robinson was one of three owners of ASC Pharmacy Inc., a now defunct compounding pharmacy in Miami. Under her direction, the pharmacy made compounded creams that were made to maximize reimbursement from government and private insurance programs, not for patients needs, according to the plea deal. Click here to read the press release from the DOJ.

The other owners were charged separately and have also pled guilty.

This isn’t the first time a Florida pharmacy has defrauded government programs like Tricare, click here to read one of my prior blogs on a similar case.

Health Care Fraud Should Not Be Taken Lightly.

We have been consulted by many individuals, both before and after criminal charges were brought for fraud or related offenses. In many cases, those subject to Medicare and Medicaid fraud audits and investigations refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of the matter. Some may even decide not to spend the money required for a highly experienced health attorney to defend them.

Click here to read one of my previous blog posts regarding Medicare and Medicaid audits.

The government is serious about combating health care fraud. It created a Medicare Fraud Strike Force in March of 2007, in an effort to further prevent and eliminate fraud and abuse of government health care programs. False claims are a growing problem in the program, costing the government billions of dollars each year. Accordingly, punishments for defrauding the system can be quite severe.

If you are accused of Medicare or Medicaid fraud, realize that you are in a fight for your life. Your liberty, property/possessions and profession are all at stake. Often it is possible to settle allegations of fraud by agreeing to pay civil monetary penalties and fines. If given such an opportunity, the provider should consider whether it is worth the risk of facing decades in prison. Be prepared to give up whatever you need to in order to avoid a conviction and preserve your liberty.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late; Consult with a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Medicare and Medicaid Issues Now.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent pharmacists and healthcare providers in Medicare audits, ZPIC audits and RAC audits throughout Florida and across the U.S. They also defend pharmacists, physicians, pharmacies and medical groups in actions by Tricare, Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers to recoup overpayments, obtain civil fines and penalties and take other actions against them. They represent pharmacies and pharmacists in DEA actions and administrative (Order to Show Cause ) hearings, Medicare Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) investigations, and administrative and civil litigation, physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers and institutions in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits, recovery actions and termination from the Medicare or Medicaid Program.

For more information please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.

Sources:

Bolado, Carolina. “Fla. Pharmacist Gets 6½ Years For Bogus Claims For Creams.” Law360. (November 29, 2018). Web.

“South Florida pharmacist sentenced to more than six years in prison for role in $3.4 million compounding pharmacy scheme.” MD Linx. (November 30, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2018-12-26T19:49:51+00:00December 26th, 2018|Pharmacy Law Blog|0 Comments
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