Ophthalmologists and Surgery Center Settle Whistleblower Case for $17 Million


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A surgery eye center and its related medical group recently agreed to pay $17 million to resolve fraud allegations that they violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute by inducing primary-care doctors and optometrists to refer patients to the surgery center for cataract surgeries.

The case involved SouthEast Eye Specialists, SouthEast Eye Surgery Center, and the Eye Surgery Center of Chattanooga, which agreed to pay the eight-figure settlement to the United States and the state of Tennessee.
According to allegations in the matter, the settling medical group provided optometrists and primary care physicians with various forms of financial and other payments, and those referring optometrists then directed patients to the surgery center for cataract surgeries reimbursed by Medicare and TennCare (Medicaid).

Two whistleblowers, an optometrist and an executive in the state’s optometric association, alleged that the surgery center and ophthalmologist group used several forms of remuneration to secure patient referrals from the optometrists, including continuing education, meals, sporting events, and inappropriate co-management agreements with the optometrists.

The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits providing payment to induce the recommendation or referral of patients. The False Claims Act permits private citizens to bring cases in the name of the government against government contractors charged with fraud. In this case, the whistleblowers alerted the government to their allegations of fraud, which laid out the improper revenue opportunity for the referring optometrists. In a successful case, whistleblowers are provided an award by the government for providing their information.  

Ross Feller Casey, one of the nation’s leading qui tam law firms, is actively pursuing whistleblower cases involving similar kickback schemes. Our attorneys understand the personal and professional risks you are taking to expose fraud against the government and will fight for and protect your rights through the entire whistleblower legal process.

Ross Feller Casey handles whistleblower actions on a contingency basis, meaning there will never be a cost to you until there is a financial recovery in your case.

Contact our office today for your free consultation with an experienced whistleblower attorney.

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