Recently, the U.S. filed a complaint in partial intervention in the Eastern District of Texas against East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System, Inc., (together, “ETMC”), Paramedics Plus, LLC, Emergency Medical Services Authority (“EMSA”), and EMSA’s President, Herbert Stephen Williamson (“Williamson”).
The Complaint alleges False Claims Act violations and violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute. The U.S. alleges that ETMC and Paramedics Plus entered into an illegal kickback scheme to obtain and retain a lucrative public ambulance services contract awarded by Williamson and EMSA, a public trust entity established under Oklahoma law. A slush fund was allegedly created to pay over $20 million in kickbacks to EMSA employees in the form of cash and gifts. In it’s Complaint, the US alleges that:
From 2006 through 2013, ETMC and Paramedics Plus received approximately $45 million in profit under the EMSA contract. ETMC and Paramedics Plus kicked back nearly half of this profit (over $20 million) to EMSA—all under a concealed arrangement designed to ensure that Paramedics Plus kept the lucrative ambulance services contract.
The case was initially brought by a qui tam whistleblower in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherson commented:
The law prohibits paying kickbacks, such as those alleged in this lawsuit, in order to gain access to Medicare and Medicaid funds…Kickback schemes are anti-competitive, undermine the integrity of our nation’s health care programs, and wrongly prioritize profits over patient care.
The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits any person or entity from making or accepting payment to induce or reward any person for referring, recommending or arranging for the purchase of any item for which payment may be made under a federally-funded health care program.
More information for potential healthcare fraud whistleblowers is located at the Nolan Auerbach & White website.