Congress amended the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) in 2010 to confirm that a claim “resulting from” an AKS violation constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the FCA. 42 U.S.C. 1320a-7b(g). However, Congress did not define the phrase “resulting from.” That question is immaterial in a criminal AKS case because the offer or receipt of the payment completes the crime. But in order to prevail in a civil FCA case, a relator or the government must prove the submission of a false claim to a federal healthcare program. In recent civil FCA cases, courts have struggled to articulate the precise link that is required in order to establish that a claim “result[s] from” an illegal kickback, often relying on traditional causal concepts to help articulate the required link. This developing area of the law is one to watch as courts continue to grapple with the interplay between the link required by the plain language of the AKS and the body of case law related to FCA causation.
U.S. ex rel. Greenfield v. Medco Health Sys., Inc.
In U.S. ex rel. Greenfield v. Medco Health Sys., Inc., the relator alleged that the defendants illegally donated to certain charities in order to receive patient referrals and then allegedly falsely certified compliance with the AKS when seeking reimbursement. The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey granted summary judgment for the defendants, reasoning that the relator had not shown a causal link between the defendants’ donations and any claims for payment. Although discovery revealed that the defendants submitted claims for 24 federally insured patients during the relevant time period, the district court concluded that this evidence alone did not provide “the link between defendants’ 24 federally insured customers and defendants’ donations to [the charities].” Instead, it explained that the relator was required to show that the federally insured patients were referred to the defendants as a result of the defendants’ donations to the charities. “Absent some evidence … that those patients chose Accredo because of its donations,” the relator could not carry his burden on his claim.