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Contracting 101: Tips For Medical Graduates Entering the Workforce

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

This blog is intended to provide an introductory review of contracting 101 basics for medical graduates entering the workforce as residents and fellows. We will highlight many of the common provisions found in employment contracts, along with many of the mistakes and pitfalls that we see in our day-to-day practice.

By the end of this informational blog, it is our hope that medical graduates will better understand the common language and terms found in employment contracts for health care professionals. The following tips are meant to assist new professionals in recognizing common mistakes made by physicians and health professionals when negotiating contract terms. We hope to help make both employers and employees more knowledgeable about employment contracts so they can avoid potential problem areas and legal entanglements.

Our comments in this blog are meant to provide general rules and recommendations that we have learned from our experiences. However, please remember, every situation is different and there are exceptions to every rule. These tips are not intended to constitute legal advice.

We recommend contacting an experienced health attorney for questions or concerns regarding specific employment contracts or to thoroughly review all of the contract terms prior to acceptance.

Tip 1 -“Standard” or “Routine” Physician Employment Agreements Do Not Exist.

No two employment agreements are identical. Each must be reviewed on its own terms. It is important to consult with a healthcare lawyer experienced in negotiating employment contracts and evaluating health care business transactions.

Tip 2 – A Negotiation is Always an Option.

Even though an employer may have what appears to be a “standard” employment contract for all physician employees, this can have changes, amendments, schedules, exhibits or terms that are varied from physician to physician or professional to professional. Generally, large employers are less likely to change their form to accommodate the physician than small organizations, but they can and often will. Small employers are often willing to make more changes to their written agreements.

If there are any changes, additions or clarifications you need to make to the contract, then put them in writing, sign them, incorporate them into the contract and attach them to the contract.

Tip 3 – All-Oral Agreements Should be Accurately Reflected in the Wording of the Contract.

If it is different or not specified, the language in the contract will govern in any future dispute.

For more information, please read one of my prior blogs on physician and employment contracts here.

In our future blogs, we will continue to provide tips on various issues to watch for in health care employment contracts.

Contact a Health Care Attorney that is 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 the following areas: 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), discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and any other matters, reviewing and negotiating contracts, preparing contracts, helping employers and employees enforce contracts, advice on setting aside or voiding contracts, litigation of contracts (in start or federal court), business transactions, professional license defense, opinion letters, representation in investigations, fair hearing defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, litigation of restrictive covenant (covenants not to compete).

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 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 Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: physician employment agreement, physician employment contract, health professional contracting, negotiating business transactions, physician contracts, contracting tips for medical graduates, contract attorney, business law attorney, business lawyer, contract lawyer, contract litigation, business litigation, employment contract terms, physician agreements, physicians entering the workforce, business transactions, restrictive covenants, noncompetition agreements, covenants not to compete, business ventures, residency and fellowship, medical graduate attorney, fellowship contract lawyer,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, health care professional representation, health care professional defense lawyer, Florida health care lawyer, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm Attorneys

“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.

Contracting 101: Medical Graduates Entering the Workforce, Follow These Tips!

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

This is part one, of a blog series that is intended to provide an introductory review of the basics of contracting for medical graduates entering the work force as residents and fellows, primarily by discussing employment agreements. We will highlight many of the common provisions found in employment contracts, along with many of the mistakes and pitfalls that we see in our day-to-day practice.

By the end of this informational blog, it is our hope that medical graduates will better understand the common language and terms found in employment contracts for health care professionals. The following tips are meant to assist new professionals in recognizing common mistakes made by physicians and health professionals when negotiating contract terms. We hope to help make both employers and employees more knowledgeable about employment contracts so they can avoid potential problem areas and legal entanglements.

Our comments here are meant to provide general rules we have learned from our experience. However, please remember, every situation is different and there are exceptions to every rule. These tips are not intended to constitute legal advice. We recommend contacting an experienced health attorney for questions or concerns regarding specific employment contracts, or to thoroughly review all of the contract terms prior to acceptance.

Tip 1 -“Standard” or “Routine” Physician Employment Agreements Do Not Exist.

No two employment agreements are identical. Each must be reviewed on its own terms. It is important to consult with a healthcare lawyer experienced in negotiating employment contracts and evaluating health care business transactions.

Tip 2 – Negotiation is Always an Option.

Even though an employer may have what appears to be a “standard” employment contract for all physician employees, this can have changes, amendments, schedules, exhibits or terms that are varied from physician to physician or professional to professional. Generally, large employers are less likely to change their form to accommodate the physician than small organizations, but they can and often will. Small employers are often willing to make more changes to their written agreements.

If there are any changes, additions or clarifications you need to make to the contract, then put them in writing, sign them, incorporate them into the contract and attach them to the contract.

Tip 3 – All Oral Agreements Should be Accurately Reflected in the Wording of the Contract.

If it is different or not specified, the language in the contract will govern in any future dispute.

For more information, please read one of my prior blogs on physician and employment contracts here.

In our future blogs, we will continue to provide tips on various issues to watch for in health care employment contracts.

Stay tunes for part two of this blog series.

Contact a Health Care Attorney that is 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 the following areas: 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), discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and any other matters, reviewing and negotiating contracts, preparing contracts, helping employers and employees enforce contracts, advice on setting aside or voiding contracts, litigation of contracts (in start or federal court), business transactions, professional license defense, opinion letters, representation in investigations, fair hearing defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, litigation of restrictive covenant (covenants not to compete).

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 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: physician employment agreement, physician employment contract, health professional contracting, negotiating business transactions, physician contracts, contracting tips for medical graduates, contract attorney, business law attorney, business lawyer, contract lawyer, contract litigation, business litigation, employment contract terms, physician agreements, physicians entering the workforce, business transactions, restrictive covenants, noncompetition agreements, covenants not to compete, business ventures, residency and fellowship, medical graduate attorney, fellowship contract lawyer,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, health care professional representation, health care professional defense lawyer, Florida health care lawyer, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys

“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.

NYC Doctor Gets Prison Term for Posing as Clinic Owner in $30 Million Fraud Scheme

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

On August 22, 2018, a doctor received a sentence of one year and a day in prison from a New York federal court for his part in a $30 million scheme to defraud Medicare and the state Medicaid program. The doctor admitted to posing as the owner of a medical clinic and falsely claiming to have seen hundreds of patients. He pled guilty on January 11, 2018, to health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Lies and Cover-ups.

The New York City doctor accepted responsibility for falsely posing as the owner of two medical clinics that were actually owned by a corrupt businessman, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Under New York state law, medical clinics must be owned and operated by a medical professional. The businessman was able to evade the requirements of the law by hiring doctors to pose as the owners of each clinic.

The corrupt businessman owned and operated six medical clinics in Brooklyn between 2007 and 2013 that fraudulently billed Medicare and Medicaid. Approximately $30 million was billed for services and supplies that were not provided, according to the indictment and other documents filed in federal court, as well as statements made during the doctor’s plea proceeding and sentencing.

Additionally, the doctor fabricated false medical records to support the fraudulent reimbursement claims and wrote prescriptions and referrals for medically unnecessary tests and supplies, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The Punishment.

U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield sentenced the doctor to three years of supervised release in addition to the prison term for his role in the scheme. He was also ordered to pay restitution of approximately $1.83 million and to forfeit $269,412 in unlawful gains. The three other defendants involved in this case, a doctor, a physical therapist and an occupational therapist, are scheduled to go to trial at a later date. Click here to learn more.

“The Medicare and Medicaid programs are intended to provide essential medical services to the elderly and the needy, not to enrich corrupt doctors and other fraudsters,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. “Today’s sentence sends a strong message that those who cheat Medicare and Medicaid, including physicians who abuse their licenses and professional oaths, will be held accountable.” You can view the U.S. Attorney’s press release here.

To read about a similar case of fraud, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

This is a Dangerous Pitfall of Which all Doctors and Dentists Must Be Aware.

This is the type of situation we often see in which a doctor or dentist is victimized by dishonest and corrupt scofflaws, especially here in Florida. Most often an older physician who is retired or semi-retired is asked to become the “medical director” or “dental director” of a clinic that is owned in whole or in part by someone else. The physician may not even know who its true owners are. Later the physician or dentist is asked to serve as the “president” or as a “director” of the company and his/her name is placed on all the corporate papers. The trouble really begins, however, when the true owner(s) places the physician’s or dentist’s name on corporate papers and licensing papers as an “owner,” “shareholder” or “member” of the business, when the physician has paid nothing for the business and is not truly the owner.

If a physician or dentist becomes aware of such a scheme and gets out of it as soon as she or her finds out, the physician or dentist may be able to avoid prosecution or liability. However, if the physician or dentist continues to do business with the true owners as an “owner on paper,” “shell owner,” or “sham owner,” (they all mean the same thing, “fraudulent owner”) then he or she can be in for some serious civil and criminal liability.

There can be serious criminal penalties, such as the one reported on in this blog. For example, in Florida, it is a felony for a non-dentist (meaning a dentist not licensed in Florida) to own or control a dental clinic in Florida. It is also a criminal offense for a layperson (or a business entity owned by lay persons), to own or control a medical clinic, unless it goes through the strict health care clinic license requirements that Florida law requires. If the clinic is owned or operated illegally (even if it’s “just on paper”), then all of the bills it issue are also illegal.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Medicare and Medicaid Fraud Cases.

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 Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits and recovery actions. They also represent them in preparing and submitting corrective action plans (CAPs), requests for reconsideration, and appeal hearings, including Medicare administrative hearings before an administrative law judge.

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

Sources:

Hanson, Joyce. “Doc Gets Year In Prison For Role In $30M Medicare Fraud.” Law360. (August 22, 2018). Web.

“NYC Doctor Gets Prison Term for Role in $30M Fraud Scam.” Bloomberg Law. (August 22, 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: Medicare and Medicaid fraud representation, false claims attorney, false claims representation, representation for overbilling, representation for DOJ investigations, fraud defense attorney, representation for medicare issues, representation for Medicaid issues, Medicare lawyer, Medicaid lawyer, health care fraud investigation representation, health care fraud defense representation, Medicare fraud representation, health care professional representation, representation for physicians, representation for physician reimbursement, licensure defense attorney, professional license representation, licensure defense representation, representation for health care professionals, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, Florida health law defense lawyer, owner on paper, shell owner, or sham owner, paper owner, Florida dental clinic ownership, health care clinic license

“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.

 

Nurse Website Files Copyright Suit, Claims Florida Blog Aggregator Stole Over 800 Articles

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

On June 28, 2018, MidLevelU, an online hub for nurse practitioners and health care professionals, filed a copyright suit in the Southern District of Florida. MidLevelU accused a subscription-based blog aggregator, ACI Information Group, of stealing and re-posting more than 800 of its articles on their website without permission or license.

Copyright Violations.

MidLevelU, is an online forum to support nurse practitioners and features helpful, informational articles to supplement a career in health care. ACI is accused of unlawfully stealing at least 823 of those articles, copying them pretty much word-for-word and then charging subscribers to access them. According to the suit, MidLevelU has copyright registrations on several dozen of the articles that the Florida-based blog aggregator copied and published without permission. In addition, ACI is accused of stealing and republishing certain photos that MidLevelU paid a third party to use on the blog posts.

After posting almost identical summaries of MidLevelU’s articles, ACI would prompt users to view the article in its entirety and then charge them monthly or yearly subscriptions to access it, according to the suit. To learn more and read the complaint in full, click here.
To learn more about MidLevelU, click here and visit their website.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in the Representation of Health Professionals and Providers.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, pain management doctors, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists and other health providers in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

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

Sources:

Bolado, Carolina. “Nurse Practitioner Site Says Aggregator Swiped Its Articles.” Law360. (July 5, 2018). Web.

MidlevelU LLC v. ACI Information Group. Justia Docket and Filings. (July 5, 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: Legal representation for health care professionals, health law defense lawyer, representation for nurse practitioners, nurse practitioner attorney, representation for nurses, nurse attorney, representation for nursing students, health care facility representation, health care professional representation, health care law attorney, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys

“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.

The Do’s and Don’ts When Applying for a Massage Therapist License

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

The process of obtaining a massage therapist license can be challenging and time consuming. When seeking initial licensure or applying for a license in another state, you should be aware of delays in the application process due to the investigation of credentials and past practice, as well as the need to comply with licensing standards.

The following are examples that would delay your application:

• Disciplinary or academic actions during postgraduate training (probation, suspension, remediation)
• Action by another state’s regulatory or licensing board
• Action by a different professional licensing board
• Misdemeanor or felony convictions
• Results of the criminal background check (remember, it shows arrests, not necessarily the results of the arrests)
• Civil judgments/malpractice
• Medical, physical, mental or chemical dependence impairment/condition within the last five years
• Adverse action against your clinical privileges by a hospital, ambultaory surcial center, Skilled nursing facility or otehr health facility or professional organization.
• Adverse action (e.g., termination for cause) by a former employer
• Action by a specialty board
• Lack of recent active practice
• Action by DEA against your DEA registration number
• Disciplinary action (especially court-martial) by the military
• Applications that require a petition of waiver or variance for a job

Not being 100% truthful about your history and education is the number one reason for denial of an application for a license! Don’t try to hide potentially derogatory information from a state licensing board, if it is required by the question or the instructions that further elaborate on the question. It is much better to come forward with the information and be up front.

This being said, you do not want to volunteer adverse information that a question does not ask. For example, if a question asks about felony convictions, DO NOT disclose misdemeanor convictions or traffic ticket convictions. If a question asks about convictions, DO NOT disclose arrests for which you were acquitted or were dismissed. If a question asks about medical malpractice law suits, DO NOT disclose civil law suits that were not related to malpractice.

Speeding up the Application Process.

There are ways to ease the process of applying for a massage therapist license and get your application processed quicker. Before submitting your application, contact the licensing board and request a copy of its current licensing requirements and the average time it takes to process applications.

The following are tips to help ease the process of applying for a massage therapist license:

1. Submit follow-up documents in a timely manner online or mail them to the correct address (as required). If you cannot obtain requested follow-up documentation, provide a separate, detailed explanation (preferably in the form of an affidavit), of why you cannot do so.

2. Keep in mind that any fees you pay have to be processed by the Department vendor. This may take a few days.

3. Identify any variation of names and nicknames.

4. Once you start the process, submit the application within 30 days so that your supplemental documents, including transcripts, will have an application file in which to be filed.

5. Have the correct address on the application for training programs you have attended and health facilities at which you have worked.

6. Send in necessary back-up documents in a timely manner.

7. Follow up with sources that are sending the Board of Massage Therapist your documents.

8. Watch for letters or e-mail from your reviewer. This is how you will be instructed on what additional documents or information may be needed for your application to be complete.

9. If asked for follow-up information from the Board, please read the request carefully to identify exactly what is needed to make your application complete.

10. Answer questions honestly and provide an explanation where appropriate. But do not provide information that is not being requested.

Massage Therapy professionals seeking a license should expect at least a 60-day period from the time they initially submit a completed application and the actual date licensure is granted.

For more information on the nursing licensing process, visit the Board of Massage Therapy.

For more information and ways that The Health Law Firm can help in licensure matters, visit our Video Q&A section or visit our website’s Areas of Practice page.

Contact Health Law Attorneys With Experience Handling Licensing Issues.

If you are applying for a massage therapy license, have had a license suspended or revoked or are facing imminent action against your license, it is imperative that you contact an experienced healthcare attorney to assist you in defending your career. Remember, your license is your livelihood, it is not recommended that you attempt to pursue these matters without the assistance of an attorney.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents physicians, dentists, nurses, medical groups, clinics, and other healthcare providers in personal and facility licensing issues.

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

Sources:

“Obtaining a Medical License.” American Medical Association (AMA). Web.

Florida Board of Massage Therapy, “Licensing FAQs” http://floridasmassagetherapy.gov/licensing/

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: Professional licensure defense attorney, legal representation for obtaining medical license, medical licensure attorney, Board of Massage Therapy representation, Board of Therapy attorney, representation for massage therapists, massage therapy attorney, Board of Medicine legal representation, Medical Board attorney, representation for Department of Health investigations, license revocation representation, license revocation attorney, license suspension legal representation, license suspension defense lawyer, representation for medical licensure appeal, representation for health care investigations, representation for licensure actions, credentials committee hearing legal representation, credentials committee hearing attorney, credentials committee hearing lawyer, health care professional representation, representation for applying for a medical license, medical license defense counsel, representation for medical licensure matters, legal representation for medical graduates, health care defense attorney, protecting your professional license, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm, license revocation attorney, license suspension legal representation, license suspension 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.

New DOJ Memo Shifting Government Policy in False Claims Act Cases Should make Healthcare Providers Happy!

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

On January 29, 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released a new internal memorandum that we believe signals a backing-off of government support for False Claims Act cases. The memorandum sent by Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, references “vast reams” of government agency guidance explaining the government’s views and interpretation of various laws. It includes laws related to requirements for accurate billing of Medicare and Medicaid by healthcare providers.

The “Brand Memorandum.”

In the memo, Brand said the DOJ “may not use its enforcement authority to effectively convert agency guidance documents into binding rules.” The memo is a product of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ move in November 2017, to curtail “regulation by guidance.”

It states that it specifically applies to civil enforcement of laws, including the False Claims Act (FCA), that the Associate Attorney General oversees.

Click here to view the DOJ’s Brand Memorandum in full on our website.

Implications of the Brand Memorandum.

Brand’s memorandum stopped short of completely forbidding the use of agency guidance in support of DOJ cases. The memorandum indicates that, while violations of agency guidance can’t be used to prove violations of law, they can still be used “to help prove that the party had the requisite knowledge” of its legal obligations, Brand wrote.

FCA cases can be affected by many types of guidance. Medicare contractors provide guidance on billing when appropriate and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues guidance on illicit off-label promotion. Additionally, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issues guidance and bulletins related to kickbacks and improper physician referrals.

To learn more about the DOJ’s role in health care fraud and compliance, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Visit our website to find out how The Health Law Firm can assist you with Medicaid fraud defense, Medicare fraud defense and False Claims Act defense cases.

What Will the Long Term Effects Be?

We see these latest actions by the DOJ to announce a policy of allowing big corporations unbridled discretion to steal from the tax payers. We believe it signals a change to discouraging False Claims Act cases from being brought. It is difficult to see why DOJ is easing off of matters that help the prosecution of False Claims Act cases, especially those by individual relators (whistle blowers). Whistle blower or qui tam cases brought by hundreds of individual whistle blowers are now recovering billions of dollars each year in Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Why would anyone want to stifle such a successful program?

It is argued by DOJ that the DOJ’s budget is limited and U.S. Attorneys need to be freed up to go after serious crime, but that is exactly why the False Claims Act was passed in the first place. If the government doesn’t have the resources, personnel or, more importantly, the interest in pursuing those who files false claims and state form the tax payer, then private whistle blowers or relators are authorized to do this. All the government has to do is to decline to intervene in the case and then the relator can go ahead and pursue the case on its own, without costing the government anything. It was because of war profiteers’ treating the U.S. treasury as a piggy bank, to be looted anytime they felt like it, that caused the False Claims Act’s passage in the Civil War era.

There is also a big concern that if there is less guidance on such complex topics as how to properly document valid medical services and procedures delivered to patients, then how can busy doctors, health care professionals and health facilities hope to understand what is require of them. It is my understanding that such “guidance” is for just such a purpose, to guide those who are trying to comply.

Consult with a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Medicare and Medicaid Issues Now.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent health care 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:

Overley, Jeff. “New DOJ Memo Will Make Waves In Fraud Cases.” Law360. (January 29, 2018). Web.

“New DOJ Memo Will Make Waves In Fraud Cases.” Institute for Legal Reform. (January 29, 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: Fraudulent billing defense attorney, fraudulent billing representation, Medicare fraud defense attorney, Medicaid fraud defense attorney, representation for health care fraud, representation for Medicare fraud, representation for Medicaid fraud, False Claims Act (FCA) attorney, FCA defense attorney, FCA representation, false filling representation, false billing defense attorney, health care fraud defense attorney, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) guidance representation, DOJ investigation representation, DOJ defense attorney, DOJ investigation defense attorney, OIG investigation representation, OIG defense attorney, health care professional defense attorney, health care professional representation, health care compliance representation, health care compliance 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 © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

New DOJ Memo Shifting Government Policy in False Claims Act Cases Should make Healthcare Providers Happy!

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

On January 29, 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released a new internal memorandum that we believe signals a backing-off of government support for False Claims Act cases. The memorandum sent by Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, references “vast reams” of government agency guidance explaining the government’s views and interpretation of various laws. It includes laws related to requirements for accurate billing of Medicare and Medicaid by healthcare providers.

The “Brand Memorandum.”

In the memo, Brand said the DOJ “may not use its enforcement authority to effectively convert agency guidance documents into binding rules.” The memo is a product of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ move in November 2017, to curtail “regulation by guidance.”

It states that it specifically applies to civil enforcement of laws, including the False Claims Act (FCA), that the Associate Attorney General oversees.

Click here to view the DOJ’s Brand Memorandum in full on our website.

Implications of the Brand Memorandum.

Brand’s memorandum stopped short of completely forbidding the use of agency guidance in support of DOJ cases. The memorandum indicates that, while violations of agency guidance can’t be used to prove violations of law, they can still be used “to help prove that the party had the requisite knowledge” of its legal obligations, Brand wrote.

FCA cases can be affected by many types of guidance. Medicare contractors provide guidance on billing when appropriate and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues guidance on illicit off-label promotion. Additionally, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issues guidance and bulletins related to kickbacks and improper physician referrals.

To learn more about the DOJ’s role in health care fraud and compliance, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Visit our website to find out how The Health Law Firm can assist you with Medicaid fraud defense, Medicare fraud defense and False Claims Act defense cases.

What Will the Long Term Effects Be?

We see these latest actions by the DOJ to announce a policy of allowing big corporations unbridled discretion to steal from the tax payers. We believe it signals a change to discouraging False Claims Act cases from being brought. It is difficult to see why DOJ is easing off of matters that help the prosecution of False Claims Act cases, especially those by individual relators (whistle blowers). Whistle blower or qui tam cases brought by hundreds of individual whistle blowers are now recovering billions of dollars each year in Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Why would anyone want to stifle such a successful program?

It is argued by DOJ that the DOJ’s budget is limited and U.S. Attorneys need to be freed up to go after serious crime, but that is exactly why the False Claims Act was passed in the first place. If the government doesn’t have the resources, personnel or, more importantly, the interest in pursuing those who files false claims and state form the tax payer, then private whistle blowers or relators are authorized to do this. All the government has to do is to decline to intervene in the case and then the relator can go ahead and pursue the case on its own, without costing the government anything. It was because of war profiteers’ treating the U.S. treasury as a piggy bank, to be looted anytime they felt like it, that caused the False Claims Act’s passage in the Civil War era.

There is also a big concern that if there is less guidance on such complex topics as how to properly document valid medical services and procedures delivered to patients, then how can busy doctors, health care professionals and health facilities hope to understand what is require of them. It is my understanding that such “guidance” is for just such a purpose, to guide those who are trying to comply.

Consult with a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Medicare and Medicaid Issues Now.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent health care 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:

Overley, Jeff. “New DOJ Memo Will Make Waves In Fraud Cases.” Law360. (January 29, 2018). Web.

“New DOJ Memo Will Make Waves In Fraud Cases.” Institute for Legal Reform. (January 29, 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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