Articles Posted in FRAUD & CRIMINAL TAX

oighhslogo-150x150Buh-bye? Arrivederci? Sayonara? Can it be that the coronavirus pandemic puts an end to one of the disgraceful ways that Big Pharma and medical device makers push their wares on all-too malleable doctors — with big-money speaker programs?

The inspector general’s office of the giant federal Health and Human Services (HHS) agency has warned drug- and medical device-makers that these pandemic-paused marketing shams should not resume. The $2 billion that industry players have forked out for the in-person gab fests in the last three years looks sketchy at best to federal watchdogs and prosecutors, the HHS inspector general warned in a rarely issued “special fraud alert.” It reported this:

“The Office of Inspector General (OIG) and Department of Justice (DOJ) have investigated and resolved numerous fraud cases involving allegations that remuneration offered and paid in connection with speaker programs violated the anti-kickback statute. The Federal government has pursued civil and criminal cases against companies and individual [health care providers] involving speaker programs … Our enforcement experience demonstrates that some companies expend significant resources on speaker programs and that some [health care providers] receive substantial remuneration from companies. This Special Fraud Alert highlights some of the inherent fraud and abuse risks associated with the offer, payment, solicitation, or receipt of remuneration related to company-sponsored speaker programs.”

Here’s another story with a satisfying ending and the take-home lesson that it’s a bad idea to cheat taxpayers and abuse medical resources.

A chain of hospices agreed to settle a lawsuit over its overbilling of Medicare, and driving up payments by providing care to patients for whom it wasn’t appropriate. St. Joseph Hospice, which operates in four states will pay $5.9 million, reported Associated Press (AP).

Hospice care is for people with terminal illnesses, and generally provides palliative services, which address symptoms, not curative care. Hospice patients usually receive the care in their homes, enabling them to die where they are most comfortable, instead of in a hospital or other care facility. Doctors prescribe hospice care only for people who are not expected to live longer than six months.

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