Philips RS North America LLC, formerly known as Respironics Inc., a manufacturer of durable medical equipment (DME) based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has agreed to pay over $24 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations that it misled federal health care programs by paying kickbacks to DME suppliers. The affected programs were Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE, which is the health care program for active military and their families.
The settlement resolves allegations that Respironics caused DME suppliers to submit claims for ventilators, oxygen concentrators, CPAP and BiPAP machines, and other respiratory-related medical equipment that were false because Respironics provided illegal inducements to the DME suppliers. Respironics allegedly gave the DME suppliers physician prescribing data free of charge that could assist their marketing efforts to physicians.
“By paying kickbacks to obtain patient referrals, DME manufacturers are prioritizing financial incentives over patient needs, which undermines the integrity of federal health care programs," said Special Agent in Charge Tamala E. Miles for the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG). "HHS-OIG will continue to work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to prevent such waste of valuable taxpayer dollars."
The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits the knowing and willful payment of any remuneration to induce the referral of services or items that are paid for by a federal health care program, such as Medicare, Medicaid or TRICARE. Claims submitted to these programs in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute give rise to liability under the False Claims Act.
The settlement provides that Respironics will pay $22.62 million to the United States, and in addition, will pay $2.13 million to the various states as a result of the impact of Respironics’ conduct on their Medicaid programs, pursuant to the terms of separate settlement agreements that Respironics has, or will enter into, with those states.
In addition to the civil settlement, Respironics entered into a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) with HHS-OIG. The CIA requires Respironics to implement and maintain a robust compliance program that includes, among other things, review of arrangements with referral sources and monitoring of Respironics’ sales force. The CIA also requires Respironics to retain an independent monitor, selected by the OIG, to assess the effectiveness of Respironics’ compliance systems.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit originally brought by Jeremy Orling, a Respironics’ employee, under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. Under those provisions, a private party can file an action on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of any recovery. As part of this resolution, Orling will receive approximately $4.3 million of the federal settlement amount.