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What You Need to Know About Preparing and Responding to an Initial Medicaid Audit Request

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

Health care providers in Florida who service Medicaid patients are at a higher risk for audits than anywhere else in the country. The unfortunate truth is that Florida has become synonymous with health care fraud. As a result, auditing and subsequent overpayment demands are very real possibilities.

The Health Law Firm and its legal professionals represent health care providers in virtually every aspect of Medicaid program audits, investigations and litigation. These include physicians, medical groups, mental health professionals, pharmacies, nursing homes, home health agencies, hospitals and other health facilities.

Facts You Should Know About the Medicaid Audit Process.

Should you find yourself, your facility or your health practice the subject of a Medicaid audit by your state Medicaid agency or audit contractor, there are a few things you should know. The most important thing to remember is that just because you are being audited, it does not mean that you or your business have done anything wrong. State and federal governments conduct audits for several different reasons. Typical ones include: special audits of high-fraud geographic areas, auditing of particular billing codes, randomly selected provider auditing and complaints of possible fraud.

If You Are the Subject of an Audit.

A Medicaid audit will usually begin with the provider receiving an initial audit request, usually by letter or fax. This request will serve to notify the recipient that it is the subject of an audit. The initial letter will not always identify the reason for the audit. It will, however, contain a list of names and dates of service for which the auditors want to see copies of medical records and other documentation.

Once the records are compiled and sent to the auditor, the process shifts and you are now going to have to dispute the auditor’s findings in order to avoid overpayment.

The biggest mistake that someone who is the subject of an audit can make is to hastily copy only a portion of the available records and send them off for review. The temptation is to think that because the records make sense to you, they will make sense to the auditor. Remember, the auditor has never worked in your office and has no idea how the records are compiled and organized. This is why it is so important to compile a thorough set of records. The records should be presented in a clearly labeled and organized fashion that provide justification for every service or item billed.

Compiling a Response to an Initial Audit Request.

The following are steps that you should take in order to compile and provide a set of records that will best serve to help you avoid any liability at the conclusion of the audit process:

1. Read the audit letter carefully and provide everything that it asks for. It’s always better to send too much documentation than too little.

2. If at all possible, compile the records yourself. If you can’t do this, have a compliance officer, experienced consultant, or experienced health attorney compile the records and handle any follow-up requests.

3. Pay attention to the deadlines. If a deadline is approaching and the records are not going to be ready, contact the auditor and request an extension before it is due. Do this by telephone and follow up with a letter (not an email). Send the letter before the deadline.

4. Send a cover letter with the requested documents and records explaining what is included and how it is organized as well as who to contact if the auditors have any questions.

5. Number every page of the records sent from the first page to the last page of documents.

6. Make a copy of everything you send exactly as it is sent. This way there are no valid questions later on as to whether a particular document was forwarded to the auditors.

7. Send the response package using some form of package tracking or delivery confirmation to arrive before the deadline.

Compiling all of the necessary documentation in a useful manner can be an arduous task. If you find that you cannot do it on your own, or that there are serious deficiencies in record keeping, it is recommended that you reach out to an attorney with experience in Medicaid auditing to assist you in the process.

To learn how The Health Law Firm can assist you with a Medicaid audit, click here.

If you have been accused of Medicaid fraud and need to prepare for an audit, click here to watch our informational video blog.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Medicaid and Medicare Audits.

The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent physicians, medical groups, clinics, pharmacies, durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers, home health agencies, nursing homes and other healthcare providers in Medicaid and Medicare investigations, audits and recovery actions.

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.
KeyWords: Medicaid fraud defense attorney, Medicaid audit defense attorney, legal representation for false billing, legal representation for Medicaid overpayment, legal representation for Medicaid audit, legal representation for Medicaid investigation, health care fraud defense attorney, Medicaid fraud attorney, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) , legal representation for allegations of overbilling, audit defense attorney, ZPIC audit defense attorney, legal counsel for responding to Medicaid audits, legal representation for Medicaid fraud allegations, legal counsel for Medicaid audits, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“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 © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2018-07-06T01:40:20+00:00May 15th, 2018|Health Facilities Law Blog|0 Comments

CMS Woes: Zone Program Integrity Contractors (ZPICs) Criticized for Oversight in Fraud Investigations

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

Zone Program Integrity Contractors (ZPIC) are private companies or business entities, that have contracted with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Their purpose is to carry out certain functions related to auditing for possible fraud, that Medicare regional carriers (now called Medicare Administrative Contractors or “MACs”) performed in the past. They are specifically charged by CMS to data mine, identify, and investigate potentially fraudulent behavior in Medicare providers.

Because of this, health care providers that receive a letter from the ZPIC often see it as a potential death sentence, and certainly an eye-opening event, because it involves investigating for fraudulent activity. However, in recent years CMS has been criticized about its oversight (actually, lack of oversight) of these fraud-detection contractors.

Taking a Closer Look at the ZPIC.

ZPIC audit letters are required to comply with regulations and guidelines established by CMS when it comes to making additional documentation requests (ADRs) for pre-payment and post-payment reviews, initiation of Medicare suspension of payments and other areas for which they have authority to investigate under the direction of CMS.

Studies have found many failures of their obligations to comply with guidelines and regulations adopted by CMS and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). There has been so much concern over their borderline “unethical behavior” and violations of Medicare regulations that the United States Senate Committee on Finance, as well as the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of HHS, have both issued scathing reports on them. These reports often warn against what they see as destructive and harmful behavior toward physician practices and smaller medical businesses.

In 2012 a report was issued at the request of the Senate Finance Committee and included the following quote: “CMS and its contractors often cultivate an environment of mistrust and suspicion that all providers of certain services are inherently fraudulent. The sentiment is widely shared by anyone that has worked with CMS contractors in the area of program integrity and a similar environment is probable within the CMS Program Integrity Group. This type of environment leads investigators, contractors, and CMS to pursue providers in an aggressive manner, sometimes unfairly, based on little evidence or collaboration of any wrongdoing.”

According to the OIG: “Often the ZPIC contractors have had no experience in the areas of fraud and abuse for which they should be accountable. The result is a loss to CMS of fraud and abuse funds and providers, many of which are small – medium sized businesses, are forced to spend thousands of dollars to address unfounded audits and investigations.”

To read the OIG report to Congress in full, click here.

Make sure to visit our website’s ZPIC articles and documents section to learn more.

What To Do If You Are Notified of a ZPIC Audit.

When a physician, medical group or other health care provider receives a notice of an audit and site visit from a ZPIC, things happen fast with little opportunity to prepare. A ZPIC will routinely fax a letter to the practice shortly before the end of a business day the day before a site visit/audit to that practice. Auditors will request to inspect the premises, will photograph all rooms, equipment, furniture, and diplomas on walls. They will usually request copies of several patient records to review later. They will request copies of practice policies and procedures, treatment protocols, all staff licenses and certifications, drug formularies, medications prescribed, and medications used in the office. ZPIC auditors will inspect any medication/narcotic lockers or storage cabinets and will request drug/medication invoices and inventories. You will usually be contacted for follow-up information and documentation after the audit and will eventually be provided a report and, possibly, a demand for repayment of any detected overpayments.

For a checklist on what to do after you receive initial notification of a ZPIC audit, read our two-part blog. Click here for part one and click here for part two.

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 healthcare providers in Medicare audits, ZPIC audits and RAC audits throughout Florida and across the U.S. They also represent 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.

Additional Sources:

Waesch, Amanda; Cohen, Frank and Weiss, Sean. “The Truth about ZPICs – Why Oversight is Needed.” Brennan Manna & Diamond Law firm. (August 29, 2017). Web.

Carlson, Joe. “Review notes ZPIC oversight woes.” Modern Healthcare. (November 14, 2011). 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.

Key Words: Zone Program Integrity Contractors (ZPICs), ZPIC audit defense attorney, ZPIC defense lawyer, Medicare audit defense legal counsel, Medicare audit attorney, legal representation for ZPIC letters, legal representation for ZPIC audits, Medicare and Medicaid audits, legal representation for Medicare and Medicaid audits, health care fraud defense attorney, preparing for ZPIC audit, legal representation for health care fraud, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), legal representation for CMS investigations, Office of Inspector General (OIG), health care professional defense attorney, legal representation for health care professionals, legal representation for fraud investigations, reviews for The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, additional documentation requests (ADRs) for pre-payment and post-payment reviews, initiation of Medicare suspension of payments 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 © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

By |2018-07-06T01:42:01+00:00May 15th, 2018|Health Facilities Law Blog|0 Comments

Florida Woman Sues After Claims She Was Sexually Assaulted at Massage Envy

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

On December 7, 2017, a woman who accused a Coral Gables Massage Envy masseur of sexual assault filed a civil lawsuit in Miami-Dade circuit court against that franchise’s owner. The suit charges that First World Financial Corp.’s negligence in hiring and business practices cleared the way for the alleged sexual assault by the male licensed massage therapist.

According to the suit, she is seeking compensation for “injury and expense, including but not limited to, psychological and emotional injuries, mental anguish, and the loss of the enjoyment of life.”

I recently wrote a blog about a similar case that was filed in Washington, D.C., seeking $25 million in damages. Read it here.

Details of the Florida Suit.

After the allegations came forward, the massage therapist was charged criminally with sexual battery and felony battery. He pled guilty to felony battery and received five years probation. His massage therapist license has been under an emergency restriction order from the Florida Department of Health (DOH), which still allows him to give massages, but a supervisor must be present. His license expired in August 2017.

The woman, who is not named in the suit, claims that First World knew of the numerous nationwide sexual assault reports but didn’t tell women coming in for massages. Nor did First World “have reasonable policies and procedures in place to protect its female guests from a sexual misconduct by a person performing services at Massage Envy.

To read a prior blog I wrote on a similar case involving a massage therapist in hot water, click here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in the Representation of Massage Therapists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to massage therapists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, licensing matters and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers. We have represented a number of massage therapists who have had summary actions initiated against their massage therapy licenses by the Department of Health (DOH).

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

Sources:

Neal, David. “She says she was sexually assaulted at Massage Envy. Now she’s suing.” Miami Herald. (November 17, 2017). Web.

Neal, David. “7 healthcare workers disciplined over fraud, drug use, rape allegation.” Miami Herald. (June 17, 2017). 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: Legal representation for massage therapists, legal representation for Department of Health (DOH) Investigation, legal representation for Board of Massage Therapy investigations, Massage Therapy License defense attorney, massage therapy licensure attorney, licensure defense attorney, legal representation for massage therapy license investigation, massage therapy defense, legal representation for massage therapy regulations, legal representation for employee of massage establishment, legal representation for employer of massage establishment, massage therapist attorney, regulations of massage therapists, legal representation for health professionals, health law defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

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

By |2018-05-18T11:59:39+00:00May 15th, 2018|Health Facilities Law Blog|0 Comments

Florida Federal Judge Triples Award to $347 Million in Rare Whistleblower Case

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

On March 1, 2017, a Florida federal judge tripled a $115 million damages award for the government to $347 million after a jury found that the operators of 53 nursing facilities submitted false claims to Medicare and Medicaid. U.S. District Judge, Steven D. Merryday, upheld the jury’s $115 award affirming that the operators of the 53 nursing facilities had violated the False Claims Act (FCA). The case is U.S. ex rel. Ruckh v. CMC II LLC et al., case number 8:11-cv-01303, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

The whistleblower in the case, Angela Ruckh, a former nurse at two of the facilities, brought the allegations against four defendants that they had submitted false claims and fraudulent records to the government. The four defendants in the case are CMC II LLC, Salus Rehabilitation LLC, 207 Marshall Drive Operations LLC and 803 Oak Street Operations LLC.

Details of the Case.

On February 15, 2017, the jury found that the four defendants had falsely increased the amount of resources needed for their patients needed, in order to get more money from Medicare and Medicaid. In the jury’s verdict, the four defendants were ordered to pay $115 million in damages for violating the FCA. Click here to read the jury’s verdict in full.

Treble Damages for FCA.

This rare FCA case that both went to trial and received a jury verdict, called for treble damages. The four defendants received penalties proportionate to the jury’s allocated findings. Sea Crest Health Care Management, L.L.C. and CMC II, LLC were ordered to pay $291,160,608 to the U.S. government and $39,897,291 to the Florida government. Salus Rehabilitation LLC was required to pay $484,000 to the U.S. government. 207 Marshall Drive Operations L.L.C. incurred $6,266,424 of damages owed to the federal government and 803 Oak Street Operations, LLC was penalized $10,055,961 to be paid back to the U.S. government. Click here to read the order from this case in full.

To learn more about FCA violations and cases of fraud involving a relator or whistleblower, click here to read one of our prior blogs.

Nurses and Other Employees Are Often Whistle Blowers in These Big Cases.

It is often a nurse or other health professional employed by the facility that is the whistle blower in such cases. They are in a position to know whether or not services are being provided and whether or not they are medically necessary. They are often in a position to see if false bills are being submitted for the patients.

In a case such as this one, where the U.S. did not intervene to take the case forward and the whistleblower and her attorneys did, she can receive an award of up to thirty percent (30%) of the recovery or $104,100,000.

Contact an Experienced Health Law Attorney to Assist in Whistleblower/Qui Tam Cases.

If you have knowledge of false claims being filed against Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE/CHAMPUS or any other type of government program, please contact us, and we will be happy to assist you. Our law firm represents health professionals and health care organizations almost exclusively. Yet, we have been involved in a number of whistleblower/qui tam cases, in which we represent the person who files the claim.

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

Sources:

Smith, Mara. “Florida Judge Trebles Award to $347 Million in Whistleblower Case.” AHCA. (March 1, 2017). Web.

Bolado, Carolina. “Judge Triples Nursing Home Cos.’ Fraud Penalty To $347M.” Law360. (March 6, 2017). 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: False Claims Act (FCA) violations, FCA defense attorney, Medicare and Medicaid fraud defense attorney, Medicare false claims, legal representation for FCA violations, legal representation for overbilling Medicare and Medicaid, legal representation for submitting false claims to the government, Legal representation for Medicare fraud, legal counsel for Medicare audit, legal representation for whistleblower, qui taim, qui tam suits, qui tam relator, whistleblower defense attorney, Medicare fraud defense attorney, Medicaid fraud defense attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“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 © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2017-04-03T07:21:21+00:00May 15th, 2018|Health Facilities Law Blog|0 Comments

Doctor Dubbed “King Of Nursing Homes” Downplayed Patient Harm From Illegal Kickback Scheme

George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On August 8, 2016, federal prosecutors blasted Dr. Venkateswara Kuchipudi, a Chicago physician nicknamed the “King of Nursing Homes,” convicted of sending nursing home patients to a hospital he believed was subpar allegedly in exchange for free staff. According to prosecutors, the doctor attempted to “whitewash his actions” when asking for a lenient sentence and caused actual harm to patients to satisfy his “callous greed” (words prosecutors reportedly used).

Prosecutors argued that U.S. District Judge Matthew Canaille should give Dr. Venkateswara Kuchipudi a sentence that reflects how vulnerable his victims were and how much Dr. Kuchipudi profited from billing insurers for the work he didn’t pay his staff to do. In March 2016, Dr. Kuchipudi was convicted of a charge related to the illegal kickback scheme. Click here to read more.

The “King of Nursing Homes”

Dr. Kuchipudi earned the nickname “King of Nursing Homes,” from the hundreds of nursing home patients he treated and allegedly from accepting kickbacks for referring Medicare patients to Sacred Heart Hospital (in the Chicago area) in exchange for staff in 2016. The victims of Kuchipudi’s kickback scheme were “elderly and physically and/or mentally impaired nursing home-bound patients,” whose vulnerability gave Kuchipudi “nearly limitless discretion” over where they were treated, the government said in a sentencing memorandum. Dr. Kuchipudi allegedly chose a hospital he constantly criticized as “substandard” and that was located far from many of his patients, prosecutors said. Click here to read the sentencing memorandum in full.

Jeopardizing Quality of Care.

The government pointed out the victims at were brought to Sacred Heart Hospital on Dr. Kuchipudi’s orders, despite it not being the closest hospital, when they were suffering conditions that could have been life threatening, including heart attack, embolism and stroke. Other patients were forced to undergo unnecessary testing, stay at the hospital longer than necessary or, in one case, stay nine days to wait for surgery because the hospital lacked the proper equipment.

“Kuchipudi should never have sent an elderly patient with a broken hip to Sacred Heart if Sacred Heart did not have the equipment, such as a surgical table, already in place to provide necessary patient care,” the government said. “The table should wait for the patient. The patient should not have to wait nine days for the table.”

Additionally, Dr. Kuchipudi refused to work weekends or take calls at night, but wouldn’t let other doctors see his patients, so that he himself could bill for them, the memorandum states. Eventually Sacred Heart had to hire another doctor to take on Dr. Kuchipudi’s patients, for which he would then bill (according to prosecutors). This, by itself, would probably violate the Anti-Kickback Statute. According to prosecutors, when he was at the hospital, he would see his patients for 10 to 15 minutes total and make no notes, leaving the work to physician assistants and nurses.

He would often bill Medicare for the work done by these other physician assistants, nurses and the doctor the hospital hired for his patients, as if he did the work himself, the government stated.

In addition to having Sacred Heart pay for Dr. Kuchipudi’s staff, the physician received “well over $750,000” from insurers for their labor, the government said. As the kickback is more than $550,000, the offense level under the sentencing guidelines should increase, according to prosecutors.

Kuchipudi’s sentencing memorandum showed no signs of his acknowledging or feeling remorse for his crimes, the government said. Click here to read more.

To read a prior blog I wrote on illegal kickback schemes, click here.

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 healthcare providers in Medicare audits, ZPIC audits and RAC audits throughout Florida and across the U.S. They also represent 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:

Kass, Dani. “’King Of Nursing Homes’ Downplayed Patient Harm, Feds Say.” Law360. (August, 8, 2016). Web.

Eltagouri, Mawra. “Doctor known as ‘king of nursing homes’ convicted in kickback scheme.” The Chicago Tribune. (March 16, 2016). 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: King of Nursing Homes, Medicare fraud scheme, Medicare audit, submitting false claims, Department of Justice (DOJ), health care fraud scheme, illegal kickback scheme, Medicare beneficiaries, services not rendered, unnecessary tests and procedures, improper billing, nursing home health facilities, health care kickbacks, Florida health care lawyer, The Health Law Firm
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2016 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2016-08-29T07:17:13+00:00May 15th, 2018|Health Facilities Law Blog|0 Comments

Orlando City Council Vote to Extend Temporary Ban on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

6 Indest-2008-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 14, 2016, Orlando’s City Council voted to extend its temporary ban on new marijuana dispensaries, less than a week after Florida voters backed a constitutional amendment to expand medical use of the drug. Back in July 2016, city commissioners voted to approve the temporary pause on marijuana dispensaries. The current ban is set to expire December 2016, but the city is pursuing an extension that would stretch the ban until July 1, 2017.

The Temporary Ban.

According to the city, the temporary ban will be beneficial because it will allow staffers to study the potential impacts of marijuana distributors, including whether they should be kept at arm’s length from neighborhoods, churches and schools. After the Legislature in 2014 legalized the low-THC oil known as Charlotte’s Web, the city of Orlando determined its current rules would categorize dispensaries as drug stores, like Walgreens and CVS. The city of Orlando pursued the July 2016 moratorium after three potential sellers of either medicinal marijuana or Charlotte’s Web had expressed interest in Orlando storefronts where proper zoning would allow them. So far, several South Florida cities have also adopted similar temporary bans on new potential dispensaries. The Orlando City Council will take its final vote on the extension in December 2016.

To learn more on the status of marijuana in Florida, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Problematic Approach.

To me this is very problematic. The citizens of Florida have spoken in making medical marijuana legal. However, it seems likely that we will be burdened with government officials acting to try to prohibit retail sellers and dispensaries in an attempt to prevent it nevertheless. For example, what would happen if every county now voted to prohibit dispensaries within their boundaries. This would cut the legs out from under the constitutional amendment passed by the voters.

We may have to go back to the polls again and vote in a constitutional amendment that blocks cities, counties and state agencies from preventing sales within their limits. Either that or elect John Morgan governor!

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 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Weiner, Jeff. “Orlando extends temporary ban on marijuana dispensaries.” Orlando Sentinel. (November 14, 2016). Web.

Weiner, Jeff. “City votes for pause on pot dispensaries.” Orlando Sentinel. (July 11, 2016). 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: Medical and recreational marijuana use, legal counsel for medical marijuana, marijuana defense attorney, legal representation for medical marijuana growers and distributors, expanding marijuana industry, medical marijuana defense attorney, The Health Law Firm Reviews, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, medical marijuana lawyer, legal counsel for marijuana industry, approval of Florida’s Amendment 2, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999, and is also a registered service mark.
Copyright © 2016 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved

By |2017-02-20T07:41:42+00:00May 15th, 2018|Health Facilities Law Blog|0 Comments

U.S. Court in Florida Dismisses Whistleblower’s Complaint Against Nuclear Pharmacy

PS 4 Indest-2009-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On September 28, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida dismissed a relator’s (whistle blower’s) False Claims Act (FCA) complaint against a nuclear pharmacy in Tampa. The court found that the relator failed to plead fraud with the required amount of specificity that the law requires.  The case awas filed against GE Healthcare, Inc.’s nuclear pharmacy.

The Allegations.

GE Healthcare operates 31 nuclear pharmacies in the United States, where it produces radiopharmaceuticals through a process of compounding drugs.  The relator was a board-certified nuclear pharmacist who formerly worked at GE Healthcare, Inc.’s nuclear pharmacy in Tampa, Florida. The relator’s allegations included the manner in which GE compounded and labeled radiopharmaceuticals. More specifically, the whistle blower claimed that GE sold diluted and expired drugs. Additionally, the whistle blower alleged that GE falsely inflated the reimbursement rate for certain drugs by providing false sales data to Medicare.

GE argued that the realtor’s claims should be dismissed pursuant to the FCA’s public disclosure bar because the allegations overlapped with an action filed by a different relator, James Wagel, in 2006. To read about this FCA case, click here.

The Court’s Decision. 

The court found that Sunil Patel’s allegations were not “based on” or “substantially the same as” the allegations in the prior public disclosures. However, the court dismissed the realtor’s claims on another ground:  failing to plead the allegedly fraudulent claims with sufficient particularity. According to the court, the allegations that defendant “presented or caused to be presented” a false claim fell “well short of alleging ‘exact billing data.'”  In other words, the relator failed to plead one or more false claims by giving the specifics, such as date, amount, patient, billing code, amount paid by the government, etc.  The court found that the relator identified no “particular facts about the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘where,’ ‘when,’ and ‘how’ of fraudulent submissions to the government.”

The case is United States ex rel. Patel v. GE Healthcare Inc., No. 8:14-cv-120-T-33TGW (M.D. Fla. Sept. 28, 2017).

Click here to read one of my prior blogs on a similar FCA case involving a pharmaceutical company.

Specifics of the False Claims Are Required for Any Qui Tam Whistle Blower’s Case.

This is one of the biggest short comings we see in potential clients who contact us with information about false claims being submitted by their employers or other healthcare providers.  They do not have the specifics of any single false claim.  Yet the law requires this or a whistle blower’s case can get dismissed by the court outright.  You can do an awful lot of work investigating, pleading and litigating a whistle blower’s case only to have the court dismiss it without its ever getting anywhere near a trial.  Even if a scheme or system is inherently fraudulent, you must be able to show one or more claims that were submitted were actually false claims.

We advise health care professionals who consult us with possible False Claims Act/whistle blowers cases, be sure you have the details, and preferably copies of the documents, that show a false bill was submitted to the government.  This can be a CMS Form 1500 or an explanation of benefits that the patient and the insurer or facility receives back.  Sometimes you can get these form the patient if you do not have access to these from the employer.  But without a false claim and, preferably, a number of false claims, you don’t really have a False Claims Act suit.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Qui Tam or Whistle Blower Cases.

Attorneys with The Health Law Firm also represent health care professionals and health facilities in qui tam or whistleblower cases both in defending such claims and in bringing such claims. 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 whistleblower 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:

Fraud and Compliance. “U.S. Court in Florida Dismisses Whistleblower Action Against Nuclear Pharmacy.” AHLA Weekly. (October 6, 2017). Web.

Mayo, Rebecca. “Evidence of likely submission not enough to prove FCA violation.” Wolters Kluwer Health Law Daily. (October 2, 2017). 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: Health care fraud defense attorney, legal representation for allegations of health care fraud, False Claims Act (FCA) attorney, FCA defense attorney, False Claims attorney, legal representation for FCA investigations, legal representation for FCA complaints, Whistleblower attorney, Whistleblower defense attorney, legal representation for Whistleblower investigations, legal representation for Whistleblower complaints, qui tam attorney, qui tam defense attorney, legal representation for qui tam cases, legal representation for qui tam investigations, FCA legal representation, relator attorney, relator defense attorney, health law defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“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 © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2017-11-20T21:33:06+00:00May 15th, 2018|Health Facilities Law Blog|0 Comments

Federal Judge Refuses to Dismiss Florida Compounding Pharmacy’s FCA Suit

10 Indest-2008-7By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 4, 2017, a Florida federal judge refused to dismiss the federal government’s False Claims Act (FCA) suit against a compounding pharmacy. RS Compounding LLC and its owner, Renier Gobea, are accused of overbilling Tricare for prescriptions. The federal judge refused the dismissal on the grounds that the government had sufficiently backed its allegations against both the company and its owner.

Judge Finds Claims Are Sufficiently Stated.

According to U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington, the government adequately pled its claims that RS and Gobea had knowingly charged Tricare prices well in excess of what it charged cash payors for substantially the same drugs. “The United States’ amended complaint in partial intervention sufficiently states claims for unjust enrichment and violation of the FCA,” the judge said.

The government had also adequately backed its allegations that RS knew it had been overpaid but had made no attempt to refund the difference to Tricare, according to the judge.

Additionally, Judge Covington rejected the owner’s argument that claims against him personally should be dropped from the case pointing to his “extensive involvement” in RS’s operations and his profit-taking from the company.

The Relator’s FCA Suit.

The relator McKenzie Stepe, a former RS sales representative, originally filed her complaint in December 2013. She accused RS and Gobea of charging Tricare, Medicare and Medicaid excessively high rates for certain compounded drugs. Those drugs, all mixtures containing the anesthetic ketamine, were charged to the government at prices of between $400 and $3,000 per bottle when the equivalent rate for an uninsured cash payer was between $15 and $45 a bottle.

The relator’s complaint was dismissed in November 2017, based on what Judge Covington said was a lack of firsthand knowledge to support her claims, but with leave to file an amended complaint by December 7, 2017.

To read the court’s order in full, click here.

To learn about a similar case involving a Florida compounding pharmacy, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

 

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in DEA, DOH and FDA investigations, qui tam and whistleblower cases, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, administrative hearings, inspections and audits. The firm’s 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.

Sources:

Wilson, Daniel. “Fla. Compounding Pharmacy Can’t Escape Tricare FCA Suit.” Law360. (December 4, 2017). Web.

Raymond, Nate. “Florida compounding pharmacy must face U.S. fraud suit – judge.” Reuters. (December 4, 2017). Web.

KeyWords: False Claims Act defense attorney, FCA legal counsel, TRICARE false claims legal defense attorney, TRICARE physician representation, legal representation violating False Claims Act, pharmaceutical fraud lawyer, compounding pharmacy attorney, fraudulent practices of pharmaceutical companies, whistle blower lawyer, FCA violations, fraud detection, financial interest in physician referrals, TRICARE fraud attorney, health attorney, defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, health law firm, fraud investigations, consumer reports of health care fraud, conflict of interest in physician referrals, compound medication prescriptions, compounding pharmacy lawyer, prescription reimbursement, legal defense of military physicians, legal defense of TRICARE providers, attorney reviews of The Health Law Firm, Veterans Administration (VA) physician defense attorney, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, legal representation for pharmacies, legal representation for pharmacists, health law defense attorney, legal representation for health care professionals

“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 |2018-03-26T21:09:45+00:00May 15th, 2018|Health Facilities Law Blog|0 Comments

Licensed Health Professionals Should Have No Trouble Locating an Attorney/Legal Counsel Who Takes CPH & Associates (CPH&A) Insurance To Represent Them in Licensing Actions and Hearings

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

We often hear from licensed health professionals who call and retain us to represent them in complaints against their professional licenses in investigations and formal licensure complaints. Often these professionals retain us after adverse disciplinary action has already been taken. In many cases they had good insurance coverage with CPH & Associates (CPH&A) Insurance, or another professional liability insurance company but could not find an attorney that would accept it.

They retain us to appeal or attempt to reverse an adverse disciplinary action taken against their license, including suspensions and revocations. Matters which may arise include letters from the Department of Health (DOH) advising them that they are being investigated, administrative complaints, a pending administrative hearing emergency restriction orders (EROs), and emergency suspension orders (ESOs).

Finding legal counsel that accepts your insurance should not be a difficult task. Our firm and its attorneys have accepted CPH&A Insurance, and many others, for years.

Our firm has attorneys that are licensed in and can defend licensed health professionals in Florida, Colorado, Louisiana, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Additionally, there are many states, such as Tennessee, Georgia, Oregon, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, and others, which allow us to appear before their professional licensing boards and authorities and represent clients in these state under their “multi-jurisdictional practice” rules, because this is an area in which we routinely practice.

Legal areas in which we can represent an CPH&A insured that CPH&A will pay for include: investigations commenced against a massage therapist’s license, administrative hearings, complaints against a professional license, emergency restriction orders, emergency suspension orders, administrative complaints, appeals from adverse disciplinary actions, a deposition for which you may be subpoenaed, and many others.

Regardless of the state, contact us at:

The Health Law Firm, Main Office
1101 Douglas Ave.
ALtamonte Springs, FL 32714
Phone: (407) 331-6620
Fax: (407) 331-3030
Website: www.TheHealthLawFirm.com
Internet Contact: www.TheHealthLawFirm.com/contact-us/

One last word, regardless of whether you are covered by CPH&A Insurance or not, if an investigator contacts you to obtain a statement from you, whether orally or in writing, always, always, always, consult with an experienced attorney in this area BEFORE giving any statement or talking to the investigator about anything.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents physicians, nurses and other health providers in investigations, 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. We represent medical students, interns, residents, and fellows in disputes with their graduate medical education (GME) programs. We represent clinical professors and instructors in contract disputes, employment disputes, clinical privileges matters and other disputes with their employers. We often act as the physician’s personal counsel in medical malpractice litigation.

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.

 

KeyWords: Legal representation for licensed health professionals, legal representation for doctors, health law defense attorney, Florida health law defense attorney, legal representation for formal licensure complaints, licensure defense attorney, legal representation for adverse disciplinary action, Department of Health (DOH) investigations and complaints, legal representation for DOH investigations, DOH investigation defense attorney, DOH complaint defense attorney, legal representation for administrative hearings, complaint investigation defense attorney for health care professionals, appeals (and variations on appeal ) of adverse license action, Virginia health law defense lawyer, Louisiana health law defense legal counsel, legal representation for physicians, legal representation for mental health professionals. Colorado health professional defense lawyer, Virginia health law defense counsel, District of Columbia health law legal representation, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm
“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 © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2018-07-09T19:46:47+00:00May 15th, 2018|Health Facilities Law Blog|0 Comments
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