Last week, Sightpath Medical, which is a privately-held Canadian company and provider of Lasik eye surgery, reached a settlement with the United States government in the amount of $12 million. As reported by the Tycko & Zavareei Whistleblower Practice Group in The National Law Review, the medical devices and services company was alleged to have offered kickbacks to those promoting its products.
The report points out that the settlement does not reflect an official admission of guilt. However, the agreement to pay such a large sum of money speaks volumes. Kipp Fesenmaier is the former vice president of Sightpath Medical. It was he who was the whistleblower on the company’s whole operation. In 2013, he brought a lawsuit against the provider of products and services to eye surgery centers all over Canada and the U.S.
The lawsuit was based on the grounds that Sightpath violated the False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Statute by knowingly taking advantage of Medicare. According to Fesenmaier, the company used extravagant trips and social events to entice doctors to use its products and services and then billed those expenses to the government’s health insurance programs.
“The lawsuit claimed that between January 1, 2006 and January 1, 2015, Sightpath Medical planned luxury hunting, skiing, fishing, and golfing trips, and offered phantom ‘consulting’ agreements, as a way to bribe physicians to use its products in their practice, including the mobile cataract surgery equipment and eye surgery procedures that would be covered by Medicare,” explains Tycko & Zavareei.
According to the Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act, Sightpath’s attempts to coerce doctors to use its products and services are direct violations. The recent settlement suggests that the company is well aware of this. James Tiffany is the former president of Sightpath and was a defendant in the lawsuit. As Tycko & Zavareei point out, Tiffany was a party to the $12 million settlement.
Whistleblower Fesenmaier, on the other hand, was a benefactor. As The National Law Review reports reveals, he is not only protected under the False Claims Act for being a whistleblower, but he is entitled to between 15 and 30 percent of the $12 million. The settlement of this case, say Tycko & Zavareei, stipulates that Fesenmaier will receive 19.5 percent of the amount recovered. This translates into approximately $2.3 million – a “reward” for initiating the lawsuit.
They also note that Sightpath Medical is far from the only healthcare company that takes advantage of Medicare and Medicaid by using kickback schemes. It’s an issue that FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard T. Thornton of the Minneapolis Division is steadily fighting.
“The FBI together with our law enforcement partners aggressively investigate companies and individuals who engage in kickback schemes at the expense of Medicare and other federal health care programs,” he is quoted as saying, “Those who seek to exploit the nation’s healthcare system through fraud will be held accountable.”
For more information about how the clinical experts at Allegiant Experts can assist your case against a company who has misused our government’s healthcare programs, please don’t hesitate to call us at 407-217-5831 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.