The U.S. Department of Justice announced on December 21, 2018 that the United States has partially intervened in a lawsuit under the False Claims Act against Wheeling Hospital Inc. (Wheeling), R & V Associates Ltd. (R & V), and Ronald Violi in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The government intervened with respect to allegations that Wheeling, which is located in Wheeling, WV, violated the Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute, and that those violations were caused by R & V, Wheeling’s contracted management consultant, and Violi, Wheeling’s CEO.
The Stark Law prohibits a hospital from billing Medicare for services referred by physicians that have an improper financial relationship with the hospital. The Anti‑Kickback Statute, in relevant part, prohibits offering or paying anything of value to encourage the referral of items or services covered by federal healthcare programs. The United States alleges that Wheeling’s compensation to a number of employed and contracted physicians violated these statutory prohibitions because that compensation was based on the volume or value of the physicians’ referrals or was above fair market value.
The lawsuit was initially filed in December 2017 by Louis Longo, who was previously employed as Wheeling’s Executive Vice President, under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. Those provisions authorize private parties to sue on behalf of the United States for false claims and share in any recovery. The Act permits the United States to intervene and take over the lawsuit. Those who violate the Act are subject to treble damages and applicable penalties.
The case is captioned United States of America ex rel. Louis Longo v. Wheeling Hospital, Inc. et al., No. 17-cv-1654 (W.D. Pa.).
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 <em>qui tam</em> 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.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone us toll-free in the United States at 800-756-2143 to find qui tam lawyers who may handle your False Claims Act matter on a contingency basis.
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