Florida Reaches $5.6 Million Settlement
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi today announced that Florida, along with four other states and the federal government, has entered a $22 million national settlement with DaVita Healthcare Partners, Inc., one of the leading providers of dialysis services in the United States. The settlement resolves allegations that DaVita paid illegal kickbacks to induce the referral of patients to its dialysis clinics, causing false claims to be submitted to the Medicaid program. DaVita is headquartered in Denver, Colo., and has dialysis clinics in 46 states and the District of Columbia. DaVita will pay Florida $5.6 million in restitution and other recoveries. The four other states involved in the settlement include: California, Colorado, Kentucky, and Ohio.
The settlement is based on a lawsuit filed by a whistleblower under the federal and Florida False Claims Acts alleging that between March 1, 2005 and Feb. 1, 2014 DaVita identified physicians that had significant patient populations suffering renal disease and offered them lucrative opportunities to partner with DaVita by acquiring and/or selling an interest in dialysis clinics to which their patients would be referred for dialysis treatment. DaVita further ensured referrals of these patients to the clinics through a series of secondary agreements with the physicians, including entering into agreements in which the physician agreed not to compete with the DaVita clinic and non-disparagement agreements that would have prevented the physicians from referring their patients to other dialysis providers. “Health care providers base medical decisions on the individual needs of their patients, not on their own financial interests,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi. “My office will continue to protect Floridians from health care providers who use kickbacks to induce patient referrals and put profits ahead of sound medical decision-making.” In October, DaVita agreed to pay the United States $350 million in a federal settlement to resolve claims that it violated the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks to induce the referral of patients to its dialysis centers. DaVita agreed to a Civil Forfeiture in the amount of $39 million. Additionally, DaVita entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of Counsel to the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, which requires it to unwind some of its business arrangements and restructure others, and includes the appointment of an Independent Monitor to prospectively review DaVita’s arrangements with nephrologists and other health care providers for compliance with the Anti-Kickback Statute. A National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units Team participated in the investigation and conducted the settlement negotiations with DaVita on behalf of the states and included representatives from Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, New York, South Carolina, and Virginia.