As previously posted in this Blog, the retrial in the case against Tuomey Healthcare System Inc. (Tuomey) alleging it violated the Stark Law and the False Claims Act (FCA) by illegally paying referring physicians started last month. After a month long retrial, the jury found that Tuomey’s compensation arrangements with referring physicians violated the Stark Law. The result, nearly 22,000 false claims and more than $39 million in overpayments. In total, with fines and penalties Toumey is facing $357 million in potential liabilities. Tuomey officials have indicated that such a large penalty may cause the closure of its business.
Opening arguments begin today in the second trial in a lawsuit filed by a whistleblower-physician against Tuomey Healthcare System, Inc. (Tuomey). The United States intervened in the matter which alleges that Tuomey entered into part-time employment agreements with 19 physicians that violated the Stark law resulting in False Claims Act (FCA) liability for Tuomey because as the government alleges, that Tuomey took into takes into account the revenue it expected to receive from physicians’ referrals to value the physicians’ base compensation.
The Stark exception and the Anti-kickback safe harbor that protect electronic health record (EHR) donation to physicians are both set to expire on December 31, 2013. This week, in response to this looming deadline, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced a rule that would extend the Stark exception to December 31, 2016. Also this week, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) introduced a proposed rule extending the Anti-kickback safe harbor to December 31, 2016.