Athenahealth to Pay $18.25 Million to Settle Kickback Allegations
Schlichter Bogard & Denton is pleased to report that, as reported by Law360, athenahealth Inc. (“Athena”) has agreed to pay $18.25 million to settle claims alleging that Athena violated the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”) and Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”). The claims were first brought in a complaint filed by Schlichter Bogard & Denton on behalf of a whistleblower. After investigating the allegations, the federal government joined the case and another whistleblower lawsuit that asserted similar allegations.
The AKS prohibits offering, paying or receiving anything of value in return for referrals for which payments are made by a government program, including Medicaid and Medicare. Under the FCA, any person who knowingly submits false claims to the government is subject to significant penalties. Individual whistleblowers who file actions on behalf of the government can receive a percentage of recovered damages.
Schlichter Bogard & Denton’s lawsuit on behalf of its whistleblower client alleged, among other things, that Athena provided customers free tickets to all-expenses-paid sporting, entertainment, and recreational events, including the Masters and the Kentucky Derby. The lawsuit further alleged that Athena offered up to $3,000 to existing customers who referred new clients under its “Lead Generation” program.
Athena also allegedly struck improper deals with competitors that were discontinuing certain offerings to refer their clients to Athena.
As a result of the conduct described in the complaint, Athena allegedly generated sales and caused healthcare providers to submit false claims to the United States government. Read the Department of Justice’s statement here.
Schlichter Bogard & Denton Partner Andrew Schlichter stated as follows: “We are pleased to have represented the brave whistleblower who came forward to expose the misconduct alleged. To prevent healthcare fraud, it is critical that such whistleblowers step forward.”
To learn more about our Whistleblower practice, click here. If you think you may have an action arising under the False Claims Act or another whistleblower statute, contact us for a free, confidential case evaluation.