U.S. Joins Whistleblower Lawsuit
The United States has intervened in a whistleblower suit accusing Renal Care Group (“RCG”) and Renal Care Group Supply Company (“RCGSC”), wholly owned subsidiaries of Fresenius, of fraudulently billing Medicare for supplies and equipment provided to End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) patients who received dialysis treatments at home. Notice of the United States’ intervention was announced in court documents that were unsealed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on Tuesday.
“RCG’s fraudulent billing practices are yet another example of abuse in the healthcare industry that contributes to skyrocketing medical costs”, said Eric L. Young, a Pennsylvania attorney who is representing the whistleblowers, Julie Williams and John Martinez, M.D. “
Under federal law, the Medicare program pays companies that provide dialysis supplies to ESRD patients only if the companies that provide the supplies are truly independent from dialysis facilities and the ESRD patient chooses to receive supplies from the independent supply company. As detailed in the unsealed complaint, the companies set up a sham supply company, RCGSC, that was not independent from RCG, and that did little more than submit bills to Medicare. It’s further alleged that RCG interfered with ESRD patients’ choice of supply options, requiring patients to “move” to RCGSC. Even after RCG employees raised concerns and industry competitors closed their supply companies, RCG kept RCGSC open because of the illicit revenue it created.
After retaining Eric L. Young, the whistleblowers filed the qui tam lawsuit in federal district court in St. Louis, Missouri, in June 2005. The qui tam case was kept under seal, meaning that it was not known to the public, while the government investigated their allegations.
Eric L. Young, Esq. represents whistleblowers (“relators”) in qui tam lawsuits brought under the False Claims Act. The False Claims Act allows private individuals to sue companies that are defrauding the federal government and to recover funds on the government’s behalf. Whistleblowers are entitled to 15 percent to 25 percent of the recoveries that result from the qui tam lawsuit.
Case citation: U.S. ex rel. Julie Williams and John Martinez, M.D. v. Renal Care Group, et al., E.D.Miss. 05-CV-00985-DJS.