Banks Jackson Commerce Medical Center, cardiologist pay $500k for alleged Anti-Kickback, Stark Law violations

Banks Jackson Commerce (Ga.) Medical Center and a cardiologist, Narasimhulu Neelagaru, MD, have agreed to pay more than $500,000 to resolve alleged violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark Law, according to the Department of Justice.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit that was originally filed under the qui tam, or whistle-blower, provisions of the False Claims Act.DOJ

The lawsuit alleged BJC made improper payments to Dr. Neelagaru by compensating him in excess of fair market value from 2000 to 2009 for patient referrals in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark Law. As a result of the referrals Dr. Neelagaru made to BJC, Medicare made improper payments to the medical center, according to the report.

In 2010, BJC agreed to pay the government $329,000 and enter into a corporate integrity agreement with HHS to resolve the case. However, the case remained under seal until the government settled with Dr. Neelagaru, who has agreed to pay $200,000 to settle the case, according to the report.

Although Dr. Neelagaru agreed to the settlement, he did not admit any wrongdoing. In regards to why he chose to settle the lawsuit, Dr. Neelagaru said, "After six years of fighting these meritless allegations, I no longer can stand up to the unlimited resources of the federal government." "I pride myself on upholding the highest ethical standards and have always had legal guidance to ensure that all of my contracts fully complied with every regulation. I firmly believe that I never violated the law." 

More articles on healthcare industry lawsuits:

Court dismisses PPACA employer mandate lawsuit brought by physicians
3 patient recruiters sentenced in $20M False Claims, Anti-Kickback scheme
Judge approves $190M settlement between Johns Hopkins and women allegedly taped by gynecologist

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