Operator of 179 cancer treatment centers admits falsifying data about EHR use

Fort Myers, Fla.-based 21st Century Oncology has agreed to pay the federal government $26 million to resolve false claims allegations and a self-disclosure that it submitted false attestations regarding the use of EHR software, according to the Department of Justice.

21st Century Oncology, which operates 179 cancer treatment centers across the U.S. and Latin America, disclosed to the government that it knowingly submitted false attestations to CMS concerning employed physicians' use of EHR software as part of the Medicare Electronic Health Records Incentive Program. To legitimize the attestations, the company said its employees falsified data regarding the use of EHR software, fabricated utilization reports and superimposed EHR vendor logos onto reports.

The settlement also resolves allegations that 21st Century Oncology violated the False Claims Act and Stark Law by submitting claims to government payers for services performed by physicians with whom it had improper financial relationships.

The allegations were originally brought by a former employee under the qui tam, or whistle-blower, provisions of the False Claims Act.

In addition to the monetary settlement, 21st Century Oncology entered into a five-year corporate integrity agreement with HHS' Office of Inspector General.

This is the company's third major legal settlement in recent years. In March 2016, 21st Century Oncology paid nearly $34.7 million to settle allegations it billed for procedures that were not medically necessary. In December 2015, the company paid $19.75 million to settle allegations it violated the False Claims Act by billing for medically unnecessary laboratory urine tests and paid bonuses to physicians based on the number of tests they referred to its laboratory.

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May.

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