HHS' Office of Inspector General (OIG) has entered into a settlement agreement and corporate integrity agreement (CIA) with Lincare Holdings and its subsidiary Lincare, the agency announced May 15.
Lincare, headquartered in Clearwater, Fla., is one of the largest durable medical equipment suppliers in the U.S. The settlement resolves allegations that Lincare paid illegal kickbacks and violated the Physician Self-Referral, or Stark, Law, the OIG said. Under the settlement -- the largest civil monetary penalty ever collected by OIG -- the company paid $10 million and entered into a five-year company-wide CIA.
Lincare engaged in a nationwide scheme to pay physicians illegal kickbacks to refer patients to the company, the OIG alleged. The company rewarded referring physicians with sporting and entertainment tickets, gift certificates, golf outings and equipment, fishing trips, meals, advertising expenses, and office and medical equipment, the OIG said. The kickbacks were disguised as consulting fees.
The OIG statement can be viewed at http://www.oig.hhs.gov/publications/docs/press/2006/Lincare051506.pdf (http://www.oig.hhs.gov/publications/docs/press/2006/Lincare051506.pdf).
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