Florida oncology company pays nearly $20 million to settle allegations of unnecessary tests

by Ben Vernia | January 5th, 2016

On December 18, the Department of Justice announced that

21st Century Oncology LLC, has agreed to pay $19.75 million to the government to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by billing federal health care programs for laboratory tests that were not medically necessary, the Justice Department announced today.  21st Century is a nationwide provider of integrated cancer care services that is headquartered in Fort Myers, Florida.

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The settlement announced today resolves allegations that 21st Century submitted claims to Medicare and Tricare for fluorescence in situ hybridization, or “FISH,” tests that were not medically necessary.  FISH tests are laboratory tests performed on urine that can detect genetic abnormalities associated with bladder cancer.  The government alleged that 21st Century submitted claims for unnecessary FISH tests that were ordered by four of its urologists, Dr. Meir Daller, Dr. Steven Paletsky, Dr. David Spellberg and Dr. Robert Scappa, all of whom practiced in the Fort Myers area.  The government also alleged that 21st Century encouraged these physicians to order unnecessary FISH tests by offering bonuses that were based in part on the number of tests referred to 21st Century’s laboratory.  Today’s settlement resolves the civil liability of 21st Century only.

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The case was originally filed by a qui tam whistleblower, a former medical assistant at the company, who will receive $3.2 million of the settlement (a 16.2% relator’s share).

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