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Matt Curley is co-chair of the Bass, Berry & Sims Healthcare Fraud Task Force and represents clients in connection with internal and governmental investigations and related civil and criminal proceedings, particularly involving matters of fraud and abuse within the healthcare industry. Matt has considerable experience in litigating matters under the False Claims Act (FCA) and in representing clients in actions and investigations brought by government regulators, including the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and various state agencies.

We wanted to update readers on improvements to our blog that you will see over the next few months.

Along with giving the web page a new look, we will be publishing a series of posts to enhance our readers’ understanding of key False Claims Act issues. Each series will serve a different purpose, and the series will focus on the following:

Continue Reading A New Year of Changes at Inside the FCA

For several years, courts have wrestled with the question of whether subjective clinical decisions regarding the type and amount of treatment patients may need can be false for purposes of establishing False Claims Act (FCA) liability.  The question of whether the FCA requires a showing of objective falsity has divided appellate courts in a number of recent high-profile cases.

For their part, practitioners have kept a close eye on whether the Supreme Court might bring much-needed clarity to this issue.  On February 22, the Supreme Court declined to do so, denying a petition for certiorari with respect to the Third Circuit’s opinion in U.S. ex rel. Druding v. Care Alternatives.

In Druding, the relators, who were former employees of a hospice provider, filed a qui tam action alleging that the hospice provider submitted false claims by routinely certifying patients who were not terminally ill for hospice care.  During the litigation, the relators’ expert examined the medical records of nearly 50 patients and concluded that the documentation did not support a certification of terminal illness for approximately 35% of those patients.  The hospice provider produced its own expert who testified a physician could have reasonably concluded that the patients at issue were terminally ill and needed hospice care.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Declines to Weigh in on Key Falsity Question

Bass, Berry & Sims is pleased to announce the release of the newest edition of its Healthcare Fraud & Abuse Annual Review examining important healthcare fraud developments in 2020. Compiled by the firm’s Healthcare Fraud Task Force, the Review provides an in-depth and comprehensive analysis of the past year’s court decisions involving the False

One of the first indicators that may tip off a healthcare provider or government contractor that their organization may be the subject of a False Claims Act (FCA) investigation is contact with a government investigator.  That contact may take many forms – service of a subpoena or Civil Investigative Demand (CID), an interview of an employee, or simply a phone call by a government regulator or investigator.  How an organization responds to those earliest contacts often sets the tone for how the government investigation unfolds.

Organizations with well-developed policies and procedures addressing how the organization will respond to contacts by government regulators often have a more orderly process to guide the organization in responding to government investigations (referred to herein as a Government Response Policy).  A Government Response Policy can set a clear tone of cooperation by the organization with any appropriately authorized government inquiry, while at the same time making clear that the organization will assert all protections afforded by law in any such investigation or inquiry.  And, a well-crafted Government Response Policy also can make clear to employees that concealment, alteration or destruction of information or the making of false or misleading statements to regulators will not be tolerated.

An effective Government Response Policy depends upon educating employees regarding the types of contacts that an organization or an employee may receive from government regulators and on establishing clear points of contact and lines of communication within the organization.  Typically, the organization will establish its legal department as a central point of contact for government inquiries or investigations (and organizations without a legal department would have to think through an alternative appropriate point of contact) as the entity within the organization best suited to coordinate the organization’s response either directly or through outside counsel.  Below we provide broad principles and guidelines that should be considered in preparing an organization’s Government Response Policy.

This post contains five parts and looks at the following:

  • Responding to a subpoena or CID.
  • Responding to visits by investigators at an office/facility.
  • Responding to a search warrant.
  • Responding to an interview request.
  • Responding to inbound calls from government officials.


Continue Reading An Ounce of Prevention: Effective Corporate Policies for Dealing with Government Investigations and Inquires

As 2020 draws to a close, we take a look back at a number of the most significant False Claims Act (FCA) cases of the prior 12 months.  Although no blockbuster cases emerged, such as the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Escobar, there were a number of noteworthy cases that will have lasting impact on future FCA litigation.  We discuss those cases briefly below.  We expect to cover these cases and much more in our Healthcare Fraud and Abuse Review, which we will release in early 2021.

Materiality

U.S. ex rel. Janssen v. Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 949 F.3d 533 (10th Cir. 2020)

Background.  In 2016, the Supreme Court held in Escobar that whether a defendant can be held liable under the FCA for violating a statute, rule, regulation, or contract provision turns, in part, on the elements of materiality and scienter, which the Court said are “rigorous” and “demanding.”  Post-Escobar, courts have grappled with specific applications of these standards, with some courts appearing to apply them less “rigorously” than others.

Allegations.  In U.S. ex rel. Janssen v. Lawrence Memorial Hospital, the relator primarily alleged that the defendant hospital falsified patient arrival times associated with certain CMS pay-for-reporting and pay-for-performance programs.  The relator introduced proof that the hospital had knowingly falsified arrival times in patient records by recording actual arrival times on patient triage sheets but then entering later times in the medical record or delaying patient registration until after the administration of some tests.

Continue Reading Key False Claims Act Cases in 2020

On May 6, the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina entered final judgment dismissing with prejudice a relator’s qui tam False Claims Act (FCA) suit against the defendant wholesale pharmacy. The relator, a former pharmacist who worked for the defendant, alleged that the defendant submitted false claims to government healthcare programs in connection with prescription medications dispensed for use at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The relator alleged a scheme in which the defendant manually filled “thousands” of prescriptions with less-expensive generic medications while billing for more-expensive alternative medications stocked in its automated dispensing system.

A qui tam complaint containing similar allegations filed against Omnicare Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey resulted in an $8 million settlement in 2017. In this lawsuit, however, the defendant, represented by Bass, Berry & Sims and others, obtained full dismissal with prejudice of the relator’s FCA and retaliation claims.

Continue Reading Qui Tam Complaint Against Pharmacy Dismissed for Lack of Particularity

Bass, Berry & Sims is pleased to announce the release of the 2019 edition of its Healthcare Fraud & Abuse Annual Review. Compiled by the firm’s Healthcare Fraud Task Force​​​​​​​, the Review is an in-depth and comprehensive analysis of enforcement settlements, court decisions, and recent developments affecting the healthcare industry.

The Review details

We wrote an article examining recent enforcement actions by the government within the long-term care industry for McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. In the article, we point out that “recent cases reinforce the notion that long-term care providers should pay particular attention to the government’s efforts to police arrangements and business practices that implicate the

Download Annual Healthcare Fraud & Abuse ReviewBass, Berry & Sims is pleased to announce the release of its seventh annual Healthcare Fraud and Abuse Review. The Review, compiled by the firm’s Healthcare Fraud Task Force, is an in-depth and comprehensive review of enforcement settlements, court decisions and developments affecting the healthcare industry.

The Review is intended to assist healthcare