Do you have evidence a hospital has received or retained Medicare payments because of fraud on their annual cost report? Medicare relies on the accuracy of the information it is provided in reconciling payments made over the course of the year. If you have evidence that a hospital cost report is false, Medicare would like to see it.
The False Claims Act allows whistleblowers to report Medicare fraud to the Department of Justice by filing a lawsuit. Indeed, Congress has incentivized whistleblowers to do so, providing a reward for information resulting in a recovery by the U.S. Government.
Potential Violations of the False Claims Act
Medicare will pay proportionately for certain items, such as capital costs, interest expenses, physician recruitment and advertising. Medicare regulations define which costs are allowable and which are not. The inclusion of improper costs will cause the hospital to receive or retain payments which it is not entitled to according to the regulations.
Cost Center Fraud
Medicare does not pay for expenses at non-reimbursable cost centers. By improperly shifting expenses between cost centers, a hospital could fraudulently increase its payments.
Medicare will make additional payments to cover extra charges in cases that involve atypical expenses. Hospitals must express an interest in this type of payment in the particular case. If the costs exceed a certain threshold, Medicare makes the additional payment.
Hospital Cost Reports
What is it?
Hospitals initially bill Medicare on UB-92 or the electronic equivalent. At the end of the year, they submit a final statement of their costs on a hospital cost report. This year end claim is a reconciliation of all payments received from the government and any amount owed by the government or required for return by the provider.
The certification of the accuracy of the report is a condition of payment under Medicare. Consequently, if there are problems with the accuracy of the report, there can be liability under the False Claims Act. This occurs either through the initial submission of a false claim or the subsequent realization that Medicare was over billed and improper retention of the overpayment.
The False Claims Act
The False Claims Act imposes substantial penalties on doctors, hospitals and other health care companies engaged in fraud while rewarding whistleblowers for providing evidence of the misconduct to the Justice Department through a qui tam lawsuit.
Our Federal False Claims Act lawyers have guided whistleblower cases to several significant settlements on behalf of relators. Our largest unsealed cases are currently focused on kickbacks in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute, but we have a broad base of experience across other types of Medicaid and Medicare fraud. In the pursuit of suspected frauds, we have brought cases to the attention of the government in many states, including New York, Florida, California and here in Philadelphia. In 2016, for example, we helped the federal and state governments recover $54 million from a Valeant subsidiary for kickbacks paid through speaker programs.
The law rewards whistleblowers for information with between 15 and 30 percent of the proceeds from the litigation, subject to numerous terms and conditions specified in the law. During President Obama's Administration, the U.S. paid out more than $4 billion to whistleblowers. For those not familiar with whistleblower cases, we have written a quick guide to the process.
Our False Claims Act attorneys undertake a thorough review of whistleblower evidence up front during the case evaluation process. We confirm that there is sufficient evidence of both inappropriate government billings as well as evidence of intentional or reckless conduct by the individuals in charge. We understand that no one person needs to have every piece of the puzzle and we have evaluated thousands of potential cases while honing our judgment. We also answer any questions that a whistleblower has in order to ensure that you can make an informed judgment about whether to proceed with a qui tam lawsuit.
To begin the process and get your questions answered, use our contact form or call 1-800-590-4116 for a free, confidential and no-obligation initial legal consultation from our whistleblower attorneys.