The U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Georgia announced on November 9, 2021 that three anesthesia providers and several Georgia outpatient surgery centers, as well as their physician-owners and an administrator, agreed to pay more than $28 million to resolve allegations that they entered into kickback arrangements by paying and receiving payments for medications, supplies, equipment and labor as well as free staffing in exchange for the referral of patients.
The federal government alleged that between 2005 and 2015, Ambulatory Anesthesia of Atlanta, LLC (f/k/a Ambulatory Anesthesia of Atlanta, PC) (“AAA”) and Northside Anesthesiology Consultants, LLC (“NAC”) made payments for drugs, supplies, equipment and labor, and provided free staffing to a number of Georgia outpatient surgery centers in order to induce the centers to select AAA and NAC to be their exclusive anesthesia providers. The federal government alleged that these arrangements were negotiated by Stanford Plavin, M.D. on behalf of AAA and NAC. The federal government alleged that these arrangements violated the Anti-Kickback Statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b(b), and caused the submission of false claims in violation of the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729, et seq.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit originally filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia by Kathleen Hartney-Velazco, M.D., Jan Kersey and Capitol Anesthesiology, P.C. (the Relators) under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. United States ex rel. Capitol Anesthesiology, P.C., et al. v. Stanford Plavin, M.D., et al., No. 1:11-cv-2513-SCJ. Under the False Claims Act, private citizens may bring suit for false claims on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery obtained by the government. The Relators have received over $4,700,000.00 from the settlement.
The Acting U.S. Attorney said with regard to the settlement, “A physician’s health care decisions should be based solely on what is in the patient’s best interest, not what increases the physician’s bottom line. There are significant consequences for healthcare providers who put their own financial well-being ahead of the well-being of their patients.”
The Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated with regard to the settlement, “Paying or receiving kickbacks to secure taxpayer-funded healthcare payments – as alleged in this case – is illegal and corrupts the federal health care system. We will continue to work diligently with our State and Federal law enforcement partners to protect government health programs and those they serve.”
If you have information regarding false claims having been submitted to Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, other federal health care programs, or to other federal agencies/programs, and the information is not publically known and no actions have been taken by the government with regard to recovering the false claims, you should promptly consult with a False Claims Act attorney (also known as qui tam attorneys) in your U.S. state who may investigate the basis of your False Claims Act allegations and who may also assist you in bringing a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the United States, if appropriate, for which you may be entitled to receive a portion of the recovery received by the U.S. government.
Visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with qui tam lawyers (False Claims Act lawyers) in your U.S. state who may assist you with a False Claims Act lawsuit.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.