South Carolina family practice chain reaches $2M settlement over alleged Medicare billing scheme

Family Medicine Centers of South Carolina, with five operating practices throughout Columbia, settled a False Claims Act lawsuit for $1.6 million.

The provider's owner and former CEO Stephen Serbin, MD, and FMC's former laboratory director Victoria Serbin, will also pay $443,000 to resolve the alleged violation.

FMC and its leadership were accused of submitting false claims to Medicare and Tricare, the government's military health plan. The federal government claimed FMC violated Stark Law by paying its physicians a percentage of laboratory and diagnostics tests they ordered through FMC. FMC then billed the tests to Medicare.

The settlement also resolves accusations Dr. Serbin and Ms. Serbin submitted claims to Medicare and Tricare for medically unnecessary labs, as well as altered FMC's billing software to change lab billing codes for Medicare payment.

The allegations were brought forth in a whistle-blower lawsuit filed by Catherine Schaefer, MD, a former FMC physician. Under the qui tam provision of the False Claims Act, Dr. Schaefer will receive $340,510.

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