Quest Diagnostic Settles Lawsuit Involving Anti-Kickback Statute and False Claims Act Violations for $6 Million
Quest Diagnostic has settled a lawsuit involving violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute and False Claims Act for a reported $6 million. The alleged kickback scheme was run by Berkeley HeartLab, which Quest acquired in 2011.
The qui tam (whistleblower) lawsuit was filed by a doctor who alleged that Berkeley was paying physicians and patients to use its blood tests, which was a violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and False Claims Act. The incentive payments were labeled as “processing and handling fees” and resulted in tests being performed that did not aid in diagnosis or treatment. Further, because the unnecessary tests and kickback payments were charged to federal healthcare programs such as Medicare, the False Claims Act was triggered.
This Quest settlement agreement is the third settlement by a laboratory to result from this lawsuit, and it serves as another example of the federal government’s focus on enforcement related to healthcare organizations and arrangements. Medical practices, laboratories, and any other company involved in the healthcare field need to ensure they are not unknowingly participating in fraudulent schemes because the Office of Inspector General, the enforcement division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has shown through its actions and rhetoric that it will continue to “work aggressively” to identify and eliminate kickback schemes and other regulatory violations.