Here’s a critical fact that every physician must understand. It does not matter if the patient actually needed the prescription. Once a prescription is tainted by a kickback, you have violated the law even if the prescription was otherwise legitimate and the patient truly needed it.
Penalties for violating the Anti-Kickback statute and the False Claims Act are severe. As a starting point, an individual who requests, offers, pays or accepts a kickback may be liable for three times the amount paid out by Medicare or Medicaid, plus a penalty of $11,000 per claim. A healthcare professional could also lose their professional license and suffer exclusion from government healthcare programs. In some cases, the government seeks criminal sanctions that can include up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine for each charge.
In this case, Dr. Juan Tomas Van Putten is looking at a possible sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine because he pleaded guilty to more than merely accepting kickbacks. He also admitted that:
- he used patient recruiters who illegally solicited patients with Medicare benefits for expensive, highly-specialized power wheelchairs and other DME;
- the patients did not need the power wheelchairs and other DME;
- he created false medical records by exaggerating the patients' symptoms and diagnoses to make it appear as if they met both the medical and Medicare requirements for the power wheelchairs and DME
- he knew that his prescriptions would be used to submit false claims to Medicare.
If you have been offered or have accepted payments from DME suppliers, pharmaceutical companies, or other service or equipment suppliers, then you should consult with an experienced False Claims Act attorney immediately. You may have options to protect your rights and avoid a personal catastrophe.
And if you are aware of kickbacks or other improper payments being made to medical professionals, you may be entitled to a whistleblower reward for helping the government stop healthcare fraud.
To arrange a free and confidential consultation by phone or in person, call my office today at (917) 652-6504 or click here to contact me via email.
John Howley, Esq.