Tampa, FL— A James Hoyer law firm client is among several whistleblowers who came forward to expose wrongdoing by Millennium Health, formerly Millennium Laboratories, which led to a $256 million settlement with the United States government. The company was accused of violating the False Claims Act by billing Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health care programs for medically unnecessary lab tests and offering doctors inappropriate incentives for using its services.
The client worked for Millennium in 2012, as an internal auditor with more than 10 years of experience as a medical coder. As a compliance expert, the client quickly noticed discrepancies with the company’s billing practices. The client’s effort to correct the problems fell on deaf ears, which led to the client filing one of the eight False Claims Act whistleblower cases that ultimately led to the settlement.
“Being a whistleblower is never easy,” said James Hoyer Partner Elaine Stromgren, “It takes courage and conviction to come forward, but it is always gratifying to see those efforts lead to a successful resolution for taxpayers.”
A Department of Justice news release, explained the key allegations against Millennium:
“Millennium caused physicians to order excessive numbers of urine drug tests, in part through the promotion of “custom profiles,” which, instead of being tailored to individual patients, were in effect standing orders that caused physicians to order large number of tests without an individualized assessment of each patient’s needs. This practice violated federal healthcare program rules limiting payment to services that are reasonable and medically necessary for the treatment and diagnosis of an individual patient’s illness or injury. The United States also alleged that Millennium’s provision of free point of care urine drug test cups to physicians—expressly conditioned on the physicians’ agreement to return the urine specimens to Millennium for hundreds of dollars’ worth of additional testing—violated the Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute. The Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute generally prohibit laboratories from giving physicians anything of value in exchange for referrals of tests.”
The head of DOJ’s Civil Division said this case should send a message to companies who violate the rules. “We will not tolerate practices such as the ordering of excessive, non-patient specific tests and the provision of inducements to physicians that lead to unnecessary costs being imposed upon our nation’s health care programs,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer.
As part of the settlement, Millennium, which is one of the largest drug testing laboratories in the country, has entered into a corporate integrity agreement (CIA) with the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General.
Under the False Claims Act, whistleblowers who expose problems which lead to a successful recovery on behalf of U.S. taxpayers can receive a portion of the recovery as a reward.