Health Management Associates Target of Whistleblower Cases By Tod Aronovitz | 01/06/14 | 0 Comment

The federal government plans to intervene in four whistleblower actions brought against Health Management Associates (HMA), an operator of acute care hospitals located primarily in the southeastern and southwestern U.S. HMA maintains 23 hospitals in Florida, and dozens of clinics in the state.

Three U.S. District Courts recently unsealed four whistleblower lawsuits against HMA, according to a December 20, 2013 Securities and Exchange Commission filing by the company. The government intervenes in only a small percentage of qui tam lawsuits; the chance of successful litigation, however, is historically much higher when the government joins a whistleblower suit.

The four unsealed suits were filed in U.S. District Courts for the Middle District of Florida, the Southern District of Florida, and the Middle District of Georgia. The unsealed actions in the Middle District of Georgia and the Southern District of Florida allege that HMA inappropriately admitted patients to its hospitals and then submitted reimbursement claims for treating those individuals, in violation of the federal False Claims Act.

The False Claims Act is a federal law that imposes liability on individuals and companies who defraud governmental programs. The law includes a qui tam provision that allows people not affiliated with the government to file “whistleblower” actions on behalf of the government.

The other two complaints—filed in the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida—allege that HMA had inappropriate financial relationships with physicians and submitted claims falsely certified to be in compliance with the “Stark” law.  Pursuant to the Stark law, if a physician has a financial relationship with a healthcare entity, the physician may not make referrals to that entity for the furnishing of designated health services under the Medicare program.

HMA states in the SEC filing that it intends to seek dismissal of these complaints.  Furthermore, HMA discloses in its filing that it has been advised that the government will also elect to intervene in four additional qui tam cases filed against the company.

Medicare Fraud and Whistleblowers

Healthcare or medical billing employees who have inside knowledge of questionable Medicare billing practices can file a confidential legal claim under the False Claims Act. By acting as a “whistleblower” in a qui tam lawsuit, a private party may collect between 10 to 30 percent of the amount recovered, depending on how the case is prosecuted.

ARONOVITZ LAW: Miami Whistleblower / Qui Tam Law Firm

The Miami qui tam law firm of Aronovitz Law routinely works with Miami whistleblowers to document Medicare fraud and other forms of fraud against the government. Click on the link to read more about our Miami Whistleblower / qui tam services.

Contact Miami Whistleblower qui tam lawyer Tod Aronovitz to discuss a case.