FALLOUT CONTINUES FROM A LARGE LABORATORY KICKBACK INVESTIGATION in Texas, as another 10 physicians and one healthcare executive agreed to settle with the government and pay back $1.68 million.
Clinical lab sales teams throughout the United States will be interested in this news. Account representatives can take copies of these settlements to prospective customers as evidence that the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeking out doctors who engage in possible fraudulent lab billing activity.
The latest settlements were announced on March 22 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Texas. In January, this same office settled with an initial seven Texas physicians and a hospital executive for $1.1 million. (See TDR, “Seven Doctors Settle Lab Test Fraud Case,” March 14, 2022.)
Latest Settlements of Fraud
The latest settlements resolved allegations that the 10 Texas doctors violated the Anti-Kickback Statute by receiving paybacks from eight management service organizations (MSOs).
The payments were in exchange for ordering laboratory tests from Little River Healthcare, which ran several hospitals and clinics in Texas and closed in 2018; True Health Diagnostics in Frisco, Texas, which filed for bankruptcy in 2018; and/or Boston Heart Diagnostics in Framingham, Mass., which paid back nearly $27 million in 2019 to resolve False Claims Act allegations.
The following doctors were accused of receiving laboratory kickbacks and have settled:
- Tamar Brionez, MD, of Spring, Texas (who agreed to pay back $85,006).
- Gary Goff, MD, of Dallas, and two affiliated entities, Gary Goff, MD, PA, and DFW Primary Medical Alliance, LLC ($454,088).
- John Hierholzer, MD, of San Antonio ($24,850).
- Bruce Maniet, DO, of Bells, Texas ($175,436).
- Huy Chi Nguyen, MD, of Arlington, Texas ($211,821).
- Dung Chi Nguyen, MD, of Arlington, Texas ($211,721).
- Rakesh Patel, DO, of Houston ($174,539).
- Cuong Trinh, MD, of Houston ($45,056).
- Randall Walker, MD, of Magnolia, Texas ($60,898).
- Michael Whiteley, DO, of Tomball, Texas ($52,015).
Also, the DOJ settled with Brett Markowitz, founder and CEO at Florida Rejuvenation Holdings, which operates medical practices in Tampa, Fla., under the name Tampa Practices.
Disguised as Handling Fees
From 2016 through 2018, True Health representatives allegedly paid for each patient that physicians at Tampa Practices referred to True Health for clinical laboratory services. True Health and Markowitz allegedly disguised the payments as processing and handling fees. Markowitz agreed to repay $185,000.
All defendants that settled also agreed to cooperate with the DOJ on investigations involving other parties.