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$82.6 million Medicare fraud case

Home dialysis equipment and dialysis treatment centers have recently been drawing the attention of federal prosecutors. Last week, a company providing dialysis services was ordered to pay the U.S. government more than $82 million for a Medicare fraud scheme spanning more than six years. Renal Care Group, Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc. and Renal Care Group Supply Company ignored the advice of counsel and submitted millions of dollars in claims to the Medicare Program.

Employees of the company instituted this whistleblower lawsuit in response to the billing practices or Renal Care Group and its supply company. The Medicare program allows billing for the type of treatments provided in this case. The violation stemmed from the relationship between Renal Care Group and Renal Care Group Supply Company. Medicare is only available for dialysis supplies if the supply company is independent from the dialysis facility and the patient is given a choice of supply companies. Here, patients were funneled into Renal Care Group's supply company.

The federal government is devoting significant attention to Medicare billing practices nationwide. Companies that ignore warning signs or fail to comply with known Medicare billing requirements expose themselves to heavy fines and criminal prosecution. In this case, employees reported the billing practices when they became concerned that they would face criminal charges for Medicare fraud.

This case follows a recent case against dialysis industry companies in Missouri. In that case, the operators of a renal clinic were ordered to pay more than $300 million in civil penalties stemming from fraudulent billing practices. The issue is very serious and can be expected to draw the attention of government investigators across the nation.

Source: Kansas City infoZine, "Medicare Fraud Whistleblower Lawsuit Earns U.S. $82 Million," Staff infoZine, 27 May 2011

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