United States joins whistleblower’s suit against Pennsylvania hospital, consultants, and executive

by Ben Vernia | January 2nd, 2019

On December 21, the Department of Justice announced that it was intervening in a whistleblower’s suit against a Wheeling, Pennsylvania, hospital, its management consultant, and an executive. According to DOJ’s press release:

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 Department of Justice announced today.  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.

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