Skin Care Doctors of Minnesota has agreed to pay $850,000 to end a whistleblower lawsuit brought by a former physician with the office over false billing practices.
According to the whistleblower lawsuit, the dermatology office committed Medicare fraud by submitting false claims to the federal government.
The office has locations throughout Minnesota, including St. Cloud, Burnsville, Edina, and Orono and the CEO and the office has agreed to pay the settlement.
A former physician with Skin Care Doctors brought the allegations in a whistleblower lawsuit, that was joined by the federal government. The lawsuit alleged that Skin Care Doctors engaged in Medicare fraud from 2008 until 2015 by improperly billing for procedures and services and billing the government for free samples.
The whistleblower, who alerted the authorities to the Medicare fraud, will be awarded a portion of the settlement under the False Claims Act. The whistleblower physician filed the lawsuit in 2015 after he left Skin Care Doctors.
“Medicare is a public trust. This resolution against both the company and its CEO safeguards that trust and restores needed funds to Medicare,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Bildtsen in a statement. “This Office is committed to taking necessary actions to rectify inflated billing to federal programs.”
Skin Care Doctors admits no liability under the terms of the settlement and its attorneys say the decision to settle the allegations of Medicare fraud was a “business decision.”
Reporting Medicare Fraud
Victims of medical billing fraud include the government and ultimately U.S. taxpayers. Additionally, the elderly and poor who rely on these public programs are also harmed by Medicare and Medicaid fraud.
False billing, over-billing and other fraudulent activities suck desperately needed money out of these federal programs to line the pocketbooks of dishonest medical professionals and others.
Medicare fraud practices include soliciting overpayment for services and outright false billing.
More subtle forms of Medicare and Medicaid fraud include offering illegal kickbacks to solicit Medicare and Medicaid business.
While the federal government has notched-up efforts to catch and prosecute individuals and organizations that engage in Medicare and Medicaid fraud, employees are often the ones that have knowledge about their employers’ fraudulent business practices.
The federal False Claims Act and certain state laws protect employees who “blow the whistle” on their employers’ Medicare fraud or other illegal business activities. Whistleblowers are protected from retaliation under the Act.
Additionally, under the False Claims Act, whistleblowers are entitled to a portion of any settlements and successful lawsuits initiated on behalf of the government. Whistleblowers can receive between 15 and 30 percent of awards or settlements.
Whistleblower awards can be substantial since damages and settlements can run into the millions depending on the scope of the illegal activity or Medicare fraud.
The attorneys at Bradley/Grombacher are currently investigating Medicare fraud claims. If you are concerned about your employer’s business practices, consider contacting Bradley/Grombacher today.
Note: Bradley/Grombacher is not representing the plaintiff in this lawsuit.