Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Agents May Surprise You at Florida Board of Nursing Meeting

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M. Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

At several recent Florida Board meetings, after hearings at which disciplinary cases were considered by the Board, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents approached the health professional. Even in instances where the nurse was represented by an attorney and the attorney was there, the DEA agents confronted the professional involved.

What Were the DEA Agents Trying to Do?

In the cases where The Health Law Firm’s attorneys were there representing clients, the professional received some type of discipline on his or her license. Some of these were Settlement Agreements. The DEA Agent approached the professional and urged the professional to sign a voluntary relinquishment of DEA registration.

It seems that this is happening to professionals where there is some type of serious or long-term discipline is being taken against their licenses, such as long-term probation, suspension or revocation. Also, if the charges against the health professional involved, drugs, over-prescribing, abuse of narcotics, operation of a “pill mill,” selling or illegally dispensing or prescribing narcotics, drug diversion or abuse, being impaired from use of drugs, and other similar misconduct. These are often grounds for the revocation, suspension or revocation of the DEA number.

This action by DEA agents has occurred at Board of Medicine meetings and hearings, Board of Osteopathic Medicine meetings and hearings, Board of Dentistry meetings and hearing and Board of Pharmacy meetings and hearings. If you are a professional who has a DEA registration and number, you are, apparently, fair game.

Don’t Be Surprised; Be Prepared and Don’t Make a Rash Decision.

It is unusual to see federal agents of this type “cruising” state professional board meetings like we have seen lately. But, it seems to make sense, from the DEA’s point of view. If you can take several minutes and convince, surprise or intimidate a health professional into relinquishing his or her DEA registration voluntarily, then you may save the government hundreds of hours of time and thousands of dollars in expenses in having to investigate and have a separate administrative hearing (which the health professional may win), if he or she voluntarily relinquishes the DEA registration.

Immediately consult with an experienced health law attorney who has dealt with the DEA before.

Remember Your Rights; Yes, You Have Rights!

Yes, you do have rights, Constitutional rights. Use them! That is what they are there for.

You have the right to consult with counsel before making a decision. Don’t believe it if a DEA agents tells you that you don’t.

You have the right not to sign any forms or make any statements. Don’t sign anything. Don’t make any statements except for getting the agent’s card and telling them you will have your attorney contact them.

You have the right to take time to consider the matter and consult with others. You do not have to make a decision right away.

The Consequences of Voluntary Relinquishment are Serious and Long-Lasting.

Your voluntary relinquishment are serious and long lasting. It will be treated the same as a revocation of your DEA number. We have consulted with physicians and pharmacists who have never been able to get it back after they relinquished it.

You will probably be terminated from any health insurance panels you are on if this happens.

You will probably have action taken against your clinical privileges if you have clinical privileges at any hospital, nursing home or ambulatory surgical center (ASC).

You may be terminated from the Medicare or Medicaid Program.

There are many other consequences that may result.

Therefore, you and your attorney should be aware that this may happen and you and your attorney should be prepared if it does happen.

For more tips on how to prepare, click here to read my prior blog.

Don’t Wait Too Late; Consult with an Experienced Health Law Attorney Early.

Do not wait until action has been taken against you to consult with an experienced attorney in these matters. Few cases are won on appeal. It is much easier to win your case when there is proper time to prepare and you have requested a formal hearing so that you may actually dispute the facts being alleged against you.

The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing nurses, nurse practitioners, and CRNAs in investigations and at Board of Nursing hearings. Call now or visit our website www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

Keywords: Administrative hearing attorney, representation for administrative hearings, administrative complaint defense attorney, Board of Nursing representation, Board of Nursing attorney, Board of Nursing defense attorney, representation for Board of Nursing investigations, representation for Board of Nursing complaints, DEA hearing defense attoreny, DEA investigation attorney, DEA hearing representation, DEA investigation representation, Nurse attorney, Nurse Practitioner attorney, health care professional defense attorney, representation for health care professionals, professional licensure defense attorney, professional licensure representation, licensure defense attorney, representation for licensure issues, review of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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Qui Tam Cases: If You Are Thinking About Blowing the Whistle, Follow These Tips

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

At The Health Law Firm, we have represented many clients that were involved in qui tam cases brought because of false claims under the Medicare False Claims Act (FCA).  We have defended health facilities and health professionals, but we have also brought whistle blower cases against health facilities and health professionals, representing the whistle blower.  If you are thinking about blowing the whistle on any type of fraud or unlawful conduct by your current or former employer, there are important facts that you should know.

Filing a qui tam (whistle blower) case can be complicated, complex, and time consuming.  It’s important to seek experienced legal counsel to guide you through the difficult process. It is crucial that a whistle blower’s attorney have a good working relationship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office, as well.
Based on years of experience with these types of cases, from both sides, here are some key tips to remember if you are thinking about filing a qui tam or whistle blower suit:

1.     You Are Doing the Right Thing.  It is important to remember in qui tam cases that you are doing the right thing. Qui tam whistle blowers often save taxpayers millions of dollars and help the government recover stolen funds by coming forward with cases of fraud or unlawful conduct.  Additionally, they help to put an end to fraudulent activities and illegal conduct that may harm patients.

2.     Choose an Experienced Attorney.  Because filing a qui tam suit under the False Claims Act (FCA) can be a difficult and complicated task, choosing an attorney with the proper experience is very important. Litigation of whistle blower cases, either prosecuting them or defending them, is a highly complex, technical area of law and not all attorneys have the experience to make the process easier, let alone be successful.

3.     Don’t Drag Your Feet If You Have Evidence of Fraud.  Once you have evidence of fraud, you need to act quickly or you may lose your opportunity to receive a monetary award. The FCA limits the time in which a suit can be filed. Generally, a qui tam suit must be filed within six years of the date the fraud was committed. Most qui tam laws, including the FCA also have a “first to file” rule. This means that a qui tam whistle blower must be the first to file a case in order to be eligible to receive an award.  Additionally, if the fraud becomes public knowledge or the government discovers the fraud on its own, it is too late for the whistle blower.

4.     Whistleblowers Are Legally Protected from Retaliation by the False Claims Act.  One concern clients have when filing a qui tam suit, is the effect it might have on their future professional career as well as their personal life.
First, because the case is filed under seal, there is no record of any kind that even shows a case has been filed, much less the name of the person filing it.  The U.S. Attorney and its investigators (including the FBI and the OIG Special Agents) will know, but they ain’t telling.  It often takes several years before the court will order the case unsealed. Second, the False Claims Act contains a provision that prohibits any type of retaliation against the whistle blower. The act  makes it unlawful for any employer to retaliate against you for exercising your rights as a whistle blower.  Additionally, if it occurs, you will have a separate right to sue an employer just for the retaliation.  I saw a whistle blower case recently which the court dismissed because there wasn’t specific information contained in the complaint about any false claim being submitted.  However, because the employer had retaliated against the whistle blower, the court did not dismiss the whistle blower’s claim for wrongful retaliation against the employer.  This was a big mistake by the employer.

5.     Silence is Golden in Qui Tam Cases. Do not discuss your case with anyone but your lawyer. Do not tell your friends. Do not tell your family. Do not even disclose that you are thinking of filing a lawsuit. Public discussions can be detrimental to your case. Qui tam suits are filed under the “seal” provision of the FCA, which prohibits the disclosure of any aspect of the case to anyone without prior court approval.

6.    Most Important, Documentation of Actual False Claims is Required. Recent court cases have strictly emphasized the requirement that you must have documented proof of actual false claims being submitted to the government.  Whether these are copies of claims, copies of superbills, copies of explanations of benefits (EOBs), copies of ledgers, copies of book keeping documents or whatever, you must have several actual claims that are false that were submitted for payment.  You must be able to specifiy these by patient name, date of service, CPT code billed, amount billed, etc.  Internal memos, policies and procedures, billing guidance and instructions, medical record entries, and other documents that show the employer’s intent to defraud the government are useful in showing a conspiracy, or organized scheme to falsely bill. However, you must also have copies of false claims documentation, as well.

Remember: Those who file qui tam cases under the FCA are valuable and important for our nation’s health care system. They help stop health care fraud and help the government recover billions of dollars. They prevent the theft or waste of millions of dollars that could be spent on actual, needed health care.  They also help prevent harm that may be caused to patients from receiving substandard treatment, unnecessary procedures and treatments or no treatment. Through qui tam lawsuits, whistle blowers have stopped harmful practices that endanger the health and lives of Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare and VA patients.

For more information, read my prior blog on whistleblowers who report fraud.

Contact an Experienced Health Law Attorney to Assist in Whistle blower/Qui Tam Cases.

If you have knowledge of false claims being filed against Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE/CHAMPUS or any other type of government program, please contact us, and we will be happy to assist you. Our law firm represents health professionals and health care organizations almost exclusively. Yet, we have been involved in a number of whistle blower/qui tam cases, in which we represent the person who files the claim.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: False Claims Act, FCA defense attorney, legal representation for FCA violations, legal representation for Medicare false claims, legal representation for false billing, Medicare fraud defense attorney, legal representation for Medicare fraud, legal representation for Medicare audit, whistle blower attorney, complex health care litigation defense attorney, whistle blower defense attorney, whistle blower defense lawyer, legal representation for whistle blower suits, legal representation for qui tam suits, qui tam relator attorney, qui tam relator lawyer, qui tam relator legal counsel, health care fraud defense attorney, complex health care litigation defense lawyer, legal representation for health care professionals, health law defense attorney, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm, whistle blower plaintiff attorney, health care professionals defense counsel, health care professional defense lawyer, health care professional defense lawyer, medical professionals defense counsel, medical professionals defense lawyer, medical professional defense lawyer

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Alabama Doctor and 3 Nurse Practitioners Charged With Running Fraudulent Pill Mill

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 6, 2017, three nurse practitioners and a doctor were arrested following an Alabama federal grand jury indictment accusing them of operating a “pill mill.” According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), all four allegedly dispensed controlled substances inappropriately, unlawfully and for non-medical reasons.

The Alleged Pill Mill.

The nurse practitioners and physician allegedly prescribed opioids including fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and hydromorphone on a monthly basis for years, according to the indictment. They then allegedly billed health care providers for related unnecessary patient examinations.

“[The four defendants] did knowingly and intentionally conspire to distribute and dispense and cause to be distributed and dispensed mixtures and substances containing detectable amounts of controlled substances by issuing and causing prescriptions for those substances outside the usual course of professional medical practice and for no legitimate medical purposes, through the operation of a pill mill,” the indictment stated.

Prosecutors alleged the medical personnel diagnosed patients at the Alabama practice with “vague, unsubstantiated medical conditions,” and prescribed controlled substances in 30-day quantities.

Additionally, prosecutors allege that they required the patients to have a follow-up appointment involving a physical examination that was “medically unnecessary.” They would then bill health care benefit programs for the patients’ visits, usually in the amount of $75, under allegedly false and fraudulent pretenses.

The alleged scheme earned the defendants more than $10,000. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the drug conspiracy and distribution counts. They face maximum sentences of 10 years in prison on the health care fraud counts.

To read the indictment in full, click here.
Law Enforcement Raids on Physicians, Pharmacists, Nurses and Other Health Providers Will Continue.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), investigations against pill mill operations are ongoing. Additional arrests of co-conspirators, including other doctors and health providers, are forthcoming, according to the DEA. If you are a physician, pharmacist, nurse, or other health provider, ensure you are taking measures to protect yourself and your practice.

To see a prior blog I wrote on the steps pain management physicians can take to stay out of trouble, click here.
Contact a Health Law Attorney Experienced in DEA Cases.

At the Health Law Firm, we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, health care clinics, pain management clinics, pharmacists, pharmacies, and any other health care provider. We defend pain management physicians, clinics and pharmacists in state license investigations, in administrative hearings, and in DEA actions, including Show Cause Orders (SCOs) . The services we provide include reviewing and negotiating contracts, preparing contracts, helping employers and employees enforce contracts, advice on setting aside or voiding contracts, litigation of contracts (in start or federal court), business transactions, professional license defense, opinion letters, representation in investigations, fair hearing defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, litigation of restrictive covenant (covenants not to compete), Medicare and Medicaid audits, commercial litigation, and administrative hearings. It includes defense in federal or state court and defense in federal or state administrative hearings.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Robinson, Carol. “Alabama doctor, 3 nurse practitioners federally indicted in pill mill case.” AL.com (Alabama News). (December 5, 2017). Web.

Narea, Nicole. “Doctor, 3 Nurse Practitioners Charged With Running ‘Pill Mill’.” Law360. (December 5, 2017). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for pain management clinic, pain management clinic defense attorney, Show Cause Order (SCO) defense attorney, Show Cause Order (SCO) defense legal counsel, Show Cause Order (SCO) defense lawyer, legal representation for over-billing, legal representation for submitting false claims, False Claims Act (FCA) defense attorney, medical license defense attorney, nursing license defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defense counsel, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defense lawyer, board of medicine attorney, board of pharmacy attorney, legal representation for Department of Health investigations, legal representation for allegations of over-prescribing, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation defense attorney, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, formal and informal administrative hearing defense attorney, formal and informal administrative hearing defense lawyer, formal and informal administrative hearing defense legal counsel

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Nursing Home Chain Hit With $1.5 Million Verdict in Sex Discrimination Lawsuit as Jury Sides with Former Employee

IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 2, 2017, a former elder care facility executive was awarded a $1.5 million verdict by a federal jury in Washington state. Irene Riggs claims she was fired for complaining about the “sexually charged” environment created by a supervisor’s inappropriate conduct with a nurse. After a three-day trial, the jury awarded her over $232,000 in lost wages up to the date of trial, nearly $802,000 in future lost wages and $500,000 for loss of enjoyment of life after she was fired by Tennessee-based Life Care Centers of America Inc. (Life Care).

Alleged Sex Discrimination.

In her suit, the plaintiff alleged that she was subjected to a “sexually charged atmosphere” by a regional vice president, who was her supervisor beginning in 2013, and a registered nurse with whom he was purportedly in a relationship. Riggs alleged the two fondled each other in an office and regularly engaged in intimate conversation, among other inappropriate things, according to court documents. Additionally, she complained on behalf of herself and colleagues about the conduct directly to the regional vice president, who allegedly became angry and later lodged a complaint with human resources.

In a pretrial brief, the plaintiff said that Life Care’s primary reason for firing her (mental abuse of a resident by unplugging his television) was not true and used as a cover for the real reason. In response, Life Care said that her firing couldn’t constitute discrimination. The company argued that she didn’t report a quid pro quo relationship or a hostile work environment, which are the two types of sex discrimination recognized by the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

She was employed at Life Care’s Sandpoint facility from September 2006 until she was fired on February 1, 2016.

The Jury’s Decision.

The jury determined that Riggs had provided sufficient evidence to show that she opposed what she believed was sex discrimination. Moreover, she was able to show that her report of alleged misconduct by a supervisor was a substantial motivating factor in her firing, and that Life Care didn’t offer a valid justification for her dismissal, according to the verdict.

To read the jury’s verdict in this case, click here.

To learn about a similar case involving sexual harassment and discrimination, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Contact Health Attorneys Experienced in Health Law and Employment Law.

The Health Law Firm represents both employers and employees in the health care industry in defending allegations of employment discrimination and other complaints from employees and patients. We represent employers in unemployment compensation hearings, in defending against EEOC (discrimination) complaints, and in defending litigation involving wage and hour disputes, as well as other types of contract or employment litigation. We also can investigate such allegations and attempt to negotiate settlements where warranted. Our attorneys represent individuals and institutions in litigation, civil or administrative, state or federal.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Gurrieri, Vin. “Nursing Home Chain Hit With $1.5M Verdict In Sex Bias Suit.” Law360. (November 2, 2017). Web.

“Nursing Home Chain Hit With $1.5M Verdict In Sex Bias Lawsuit.” Lexis Nexis. (November 2, 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for workplace discrimination, legal representation for employee discrimination, legal representation for nursing homes, legal representation for elder care facilities, legal representation for home health facilities, nursing home representation, home health care facility representation, nursing law defense attorney, elder care facility representation, legal representation for nurses, legal representation for health care facilities, health care facility defense attorney, legal representation for sexual harassment and discrimination, employment law, legal representation for employment matters, employment law defense attorney, unemployment compensation hearings, defending against EEOC (discrimination) complaints, defending litigation involving wage and hour disputes, legal representation for contract law, legal representation for contract litigation, legal representation for employment litigation, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Big News For Nursing Homes: Federal Government’s Ban On Nursing Home Arbitration Blocked

5 Indest-2008-2By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 7, 2016, a Mississippi federal judge temporarily blocked enforcement of the federal government’s ban on mandatory arbitration in cases involving nursing homes. The order from U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills granted a preliminary injunction sought by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and prevents the ban from taking effect on Nov. 28.

The proposed rule, released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), bans so-called pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts, which require patients and families to settle any dispute over care in arbitration, rather than through the court system.

To learn more about the rule, click here.

Click here to read the final rule issued by CMS.

Not Everyone Agrees With The Rule.

In Judge Mills’s order, he wrote that the CMS “does not have the authority to ban nursing home arbitration on general policy grounds,” even if the goal of protecting elderly Americans is a worthy one.

Additionally, Judge Mills added that CMS could conceivably justify the ban by citing its authority to protect the health and safety of nursing home residents. But, that would require “an exceedingly broad understanding of agency authority.”

Click here to read Judge Mill’s order in full.

AHCA, a top trade group for nursing homes, shared their disapproval of the ban and stated that they are happy with the outcome. “We believe federal law plainly prohibits CMS from issuing this arbitration regulation, and this injunction will halt implementation of the final rule until the court can consider the merits of the case,” the association said.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Nursing Home Cases.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent nursing homes and nursing home employees in a number of different matters including incorporation, preparing contracts, defending the facility against malpractice claims, licensing and regulatory matters, administrative hearings, and routine legal advice.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Sources:

Overley, Jeff. “BREAKING: Feds’ Ban On Nursing Home Arbitration Blocked.” Law360. (November 7, 2016). Web.

Corkery, Michael. “U.S. Just Made It A lot More Easier To Sue Nursing Homes.” The New York Times. (September 29, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Nursing home arbitration cases, U.S. ban on mandatory arbitration for nursing homes, legal representation for American Health Care Association (AHCA) investigations, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), legal representation for nursing homes, CMS investigation defense lawyer, Medicare and Medicaid defense attorney, reviews for The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2016 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

CMS Drops Florida Nursing Home From Medicare Program After 14 Patients Died During Storm

George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On October 12, 2017, federal health officials announced they are dropping a Florida nursing home from the Medicare program after 14 patients died allegedly as a result of the Hurricane Irma emergency. On Sept. 13, 2017, eight residents died and the others were evacuated from the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills after the facility lost air conditioning. Six more have since died, which attorneys say was a result of the conditions and evacuations immediately after the storm.

CMS Sanctions.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said in a statement that the facility will be terminated “due to their [sic] failure to meet Medicare’s basic health and safety requirements.” CMS also imposed a penalty of $20,965 a day for the three days that Hollywood Hills lost power to its air conditioning unit.

Under the CMS sanctions, Medicare will continue to pay the Hollywood Hills center through November 12, 2017, for any care that was provided to residents before the evacuation and closure.

This incident is what allegedly prompted Florida Governor Rick Scott to impose emergency rules requiring all nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in Florida (over 3,000 facilities) to have emergency power generators and fuel installed within 60 days to keep their residents air conditioned for up to 96 hours during a power failure. To read more on the emergency rule, click here.

Despite all this, the rehabilitation center has not given up hope on reopening. A spokeswoman for Hollywood Hills said they’ll appeal the decision and look forward to showing evidence that their actions were consistent with all state and federal rules.

To learn more about CMS’s authority to suspend or terminate Medicare to providers, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late; Consult with a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Medicare and Medicaid Issues Now.

If you receive any notice related to any audit, overpayment or action to terminate you or your company, take immediate action. The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent healthcare providers in Medicare audits, ZPIC audits and RAC audits throughout Florida and across the U.S. They also represent physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers and institutions in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits, recovery actions and termination from the Medicare or Medicaid Program.

We also represent physicians, medical groups, pharmacies. health facilities and therapists in notices of termination of Medicare billing privileges, corrective action plans (CAPs), OIG exclusion hearings, Medicaid hearings and applications for removal from the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE).

For more information please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.

Sources:

Chang, Daniel. “Feds to cut Medicare for Hollywood Hills nursing home after residents died.” Miami Herald. (October 12, 2017). Web.

“Florida nursing home where 14 died cut from Medicare program.” Associated Press. (October 12, 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for Medicare investigations, legal representation for Medicare exclusion, Medicare attorney, Medicare defense attorney, OIG exclusion, legal representation for nursing home compliance, legal representation for nursing home regulations, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), legal representation for CMS investigations, legal representation for Medicare providers, nursing facility license defense, legal attorney for health facilities, CMS termination of Medicare provider status, legal representation for Medicare reinstatement, legal representation for health care compliance, legal representation for health care professionals, health law defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

 

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

U.S. Court in Florida Dismisses Whistleblower’s Complaint Against Nuclear Pharmacy

PS 4 Indest-2009-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On September 28, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida dismissed a relator’s (whistle blower’s) False Claims Act (FCA) complaint against a nuclear pharmacy in Tampa. The court found that the relator failed to plead fraud with the required amount of specificity that the law requires.  The case awas filed against GE Healthcare, Inc.’s nuclear pharmacy.

The Allegations.

GE Healthcare operates 31 nuclear pharmacies in the United States, where it produces radiopharmaceuticals through a process of compounding drugs.  The relator was a board-certified nuclear pharmacist who formerly worked at GE Healthcare, Inc.’s nuclear pharmacy in Tampa, Florida. The relator’s allegations included the manner in which GE compounded and labeled radiopharmaceuticals. More specifically, the whistle blower claimed that GE sold diluted and expired drugs. Additionally, the whistle blower alleged that GE falsely inflated the reimbursement rate for certain drugs by providing false sales data to Medicare.

GE argued that the realtor’s claims should be dismissed pursuant to the FCA’s public disclosure bar because the allegations overlapped with an action filed by a different relator, James Wagel, in 2006. To read about this FCA case, click here.

The Court’s Decision. 

The court found that Sunil Patel’s allegations were not “based on” or “substantially the same as” the allegations in the prior public disclosures. However, the court dismissed the realtor’s claims on another ground:  failing to plead the allegedly fraudulent claims with sufficient particularity. According to the court, the allegations that defendant “presented or caused to be presented” a false claim fell “well short of alleging ‘exact billing data.'”  In other words, the relator failed to plead one or more false claims by giving the specifics, such as date, amount, patient, billing code, amount paid by the government, etc.  The court found that the relator identified no “particular facts about the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘where,’ ‘when,’ and ‘how’ of fraudulent submissions to the government.”

The case is United States ex rel. Patel v. GE Healthcare Inc., No. 8:14-cv-120-T-33TGW (M.D. Fla. Sept. 28, 2017).

Click here to read one of my prior blogs on a similar FCA case involving a pharmaceutical company.

Specifics of the False Claims Are Required for Any Qui Tam Whistle Blower’s Case.

This is one of the biggest short comings we see in potential clients who contact us with information about false claims being submitted by their employers or other healthcare providers.  They do not have the specifics of any single false claim.  Yet the law requires this or a whistle blower’s case can get dismissed by the court outright.  You can do an awful lot of work investigating, pleading and litigating a whistle blower’s case only to have the court dismiss it without its ever getting anywhere near a trial.  Even if a scheme or system is inherently fraudulent, you must be able to show one or more claims that were submitted were actually false claims.

We advise health care professionals who consult us with possible False Claims Act/whistle blowers cases, be sure you have the details, and preferably copies of the documents, that show a false bill was submitted to the government.  This can be a CMS Form 1500 or an explanation of benefits that the patient and the insurer or facility receives back.  Sometimes you can get these form the patient if you do not have access to these from the employer.  But without a false claim and, preferably, a number of false claims, you don’t really have a False Claims Act suit.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Qui Tam or Whistle Blower Cases.

Attorneys with The Health Law Firm also represent health care professionals and health facilities in qui tam or whistleblower cases both in defending such claims and in bringing such claims. We have developed relationships with recognized experts in health care accounting, health care financing, utilization review, medical review, filling, coding, and other services that assist us in such matters. We have represented doctors, nurses and others as relators in bringing qui tam or whistleblower cases, as well.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com

Sources:

Fraud and Compliance. “U.S. Court in Florida Dismisses Whistleblower Action Against Nuclear Pharmacy.” AHLA Weekly. (October 6, 2017). Web.

Mayo, Rebecca. “Evidence of likely submission not enough to prove FCA violation.” Wolters Kluwer Health Law Daily. (October 2, 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Health care fraud defense attorney, legal representation for allegations of health care fraud, False Claims Act (FCA) attorney, FCA defense attorney, False Claims attorney, legal representation for FCA investigations, legal representation for FCA complaints, Whistleblower attorney, Whistleblower defense attorney, legal representation for Whistleblower investigations, legal representation for Whistleblower complaints, qui tam attorney, qui tam defense attorney, legal representation for qui tam cases, legal representation for qui tam investigations, FCA legal representation, relator attorney, relator defense attorney, health law defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Miami Woman Gets 4 Years in Prison for Illegal Silicone Injection Scheme

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On September 20, 2017, a Florida federal judge sentenced a Florida woman to more than four years in prison for her part in a conspiracy to inject non-medical silicone into the buttocks of hundreds of spa customers. U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams handed down the sentence to Magaly Del Rosario, who pled guilty for her part in the scheme to purchase “misbranded” silicone from Colombia and inject it into her “patients.” The “patients” were seeking “buttocks augmentation” at the Bella Beauty Spa in Miami between 2008 and 2015, according to court documents.

The Scheme.

Prosecutors said Del Rosario conspired with a local salon owner to smuggle the silicone from Colombia by having it falsely labeled as a type of wax used for hair removal. The salon owner was sentenced to 79 months in prison in late August 2017 for her part in the plot.

Prosecutors also alleged that the duo calmed patients’ worries by implying that they were both licensed to perform the procedure and telling them that they were being injected with a safe, temporary substance. In fact, prosecutors said, the pair knew the material was non-medical silicone, which is not only permanent but is also dangerous.

The Consequences of Such a Dangerous Scheme.

According to prosecutors, the silicone injections, which were made without the supervision of a licensed medical practitioner, can cause embolisms, infections, scar tissue formation, necrosis, skin discoloration and increased immune system activity. They also said that the silicone can travel to other unintended parts of the body causing discomfort and pain for patients.

After clients began complaining of complications and medical issues, they were directed to a man who was also practicing medicine without a license. The man was previously incarcerated for the same offense and allegedly performed minor surgeries in the salon.

Unlicensed Medical Practice Abounds in Florida.

Is it just me,. or does it seem that Florida is rife with those practicing medicine, dentistry and other health professions without a license? I have written blogs on this many times in the past. It is so prevalent that it pops up from time to time in the novels of Florida humor writers such as Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey, as merely another unusual fact of life in Florida. I also previously wrote a blog on another Florida woman who was sentenced to 11 years in prison after her patient died from the illegal silicone injections. Click here to read the blog.

Why Don’t Patients Check Out the Credentials of Their Physicians?

Why don’t patients check out the credentials of their physicians? This just seems like common sense. Yet Florida abounds with phony doctors, phony paramedics, phony dentists and others practicing medicine or some other health profession without being licensed or even knowing anything about the field. Is it driven by the expense of medical procedures? To a certain extent it may very well be. It may also be partially explained by a failure of the “patients” to comprehend the possible adverse consequences of what may be viewed as a “minor” procedure. To a large extent, the unlicensed individuals who do this also prey on foreign born immigrants and foreigners, trusting them because they speak the same language.

The problem seems to go way beyond just the lack of licensure of the person providing the medical services. I constantly see cases of licensed medical doctors holding themselves out as experienced practitioners in medical specialties for which they are not board certified. I have seen cases where board certified obstetricians/gynecologists are practicing pain management, where family practice physicians are performing plastic surgery procedures, where dentists are running medical spas providing cosmetic laser services, where nurses are performing cosmetic medical procedures, etc.

If you were diagnosed with a brain tumor, would you go to a family practice doctor to have it removed because he didn’t charge as much. If you needed a hernia repair, would you go to the “doctor” at the flea market, because she was so inexpensive? Consumers really need to be more worried about the experience and credentials of their physicians and check them out completely. Neighbors who have “doctors” set up clinics in their homes and garages need to rat these people out. Phony plastic surgeons who only advertise in Spanish on Spanish radio stations need to be reported to the authorities. Florida needs to do more about these unlicensed and licensed, but unqualified, health practitioners.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Health Professionals and Providers.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists and other health providers in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Crosby, Christopher. “Miami Woman Gets 4 Years For Spa Silicone Injection Scheme.” Law360. (September 20, 2017). Web.

Scicchitano, Paul. “Illegal Miami Butt Biz Sends Spa Manager To Jail.” Miami Patch. (September 20, 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for health care professionals, legal representation for licensed health care professionals, licensed health care professional defense attorney, health law defense attorney, Florida health law attorney, health care fraud defense attorney, legal representation for health care fraud, legal representation for health care fraud investigations, health care fraud investigation representation, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation representation, review of The Health Law Firm attorneys, The Health Law Firm reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Inmates Family Sues Jail After Improper Care

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Orange Country Jail Sued.

A wrongful death suit has been filed against Orange County Jail due to what some are saying was a preventable death.  The suit was filed directly against Robert Buck, the head of the jails health services department, along with four nurses that cared for the late inmate.

Dog Bites Leads to Death In Jail.

In 2015, Max Gracia was arrested. During his arrest, he sustained many bites from one of the police dogs. He was treated in the hospital until he was stable. Once he was moved to the jail cell he was found unconscious and later died in the hospital. The autopsy reported that he died from an E Coli infection that stemmed from the dog bites. His mother, Willine Gracia, has filed the wrongful death suit claiming that her son received subpar care and as a result died.

Claimants Allege “A Culture of Neglect.”

Reportedly the medical staff of the jail stated that Garcia was exaggerating or faking the illness. The lawsuit claims the jail has a “culture of neglect”and this was really what was at work here.  Willine Gracia states that she hopes that this lawsuit will bring attention to the wrongful health care services so many inmates receive.

Providing Representation For All Health Care Professionals.

Our firm has represented a number of nurses, physicians and other health care professionals who provide care in jails and prisons, as well as in other government facilities and institutions.  We routinely represent physicians, nurses and advance practice nurses who work for the VA, the Department of Health, the county, the military, the Indian Health Service and other government agencies.  Although government employees may have personal immunity from civil suits, they are not protected against termination and other employment actions, complaints against their professional license, National Practitioner Data Bank reports, and other types of administrative actions;  our firm represents them in all of these.  The government is not going to represent you in these.  Call us at the first sign of a legal problem.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

Sources:

Hayes, Christal. “Family Sues Orange County Jail, Nursing Staff after Inmate’s Death from Police-Dog Bite.” OrlandoSentinel.com, 1 Aug. 2017. (Print).

Walden, Tiffany. “Inmate Son Suffered Seizure before Death, Mom.” Orlando Sentinel. (16 Aug. 2016). Web.

Key Words: Legal representation for government physicians, legal representation for government nurses, legal defense of professional licensure cases, legal representation for Board of Nursing cases, legal representation for Board of Medicine cases, Board of Nursing investigation defense attorney, legal representation for peer review, legal representation for administrative actions, legal representation for VA physicians, legal representation for VA nurses,  health care lawyer, The Health Law Firm reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.