On Tuesday, the U.S. Justice Department said it has joined a whistle-blower lawsuit that accuses Renal Care Group and its Renal Care Group Supply Co. subsidiary of fraudulently billing the Medicare program. Both are owned by Fresenius Medical Care, which completed its purchase of Renal Care Group in March 2006 and is also named in the lawsuit. At deadline, the value of the alleged fraudulent claims was not available, and a representative for Fresenius North America was also unavailable.
It is alleged that between 1999 and 2005 Renal Care Group Supply Co. submitted claims to Medicare for home dialysis supplies provided to patients with end-stage renal disease for reimbursement of the supplies and equipment, according to a news release from the Justice Department. These claims, as well as related claims for support services rendered by Renal Care Group dialysis clinics, are alleged to be false because the defendants were prohibited from billing and not qualified to bill the Medicare program for these home dialysis patients. The whistle-blower lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in St. Louis by two former Renal Care Group employees, a regional administrator and a medical director for Renal Care Group clinics in East Texas.
The news came on the same day that HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt asked members of Congress for $183 million in discretionary fiscal 2008 spending to assist the department in anti-fraud and -abuse efforts, especially in the Medicare prescription-drug, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid programs. The administration has asked for $1.3 billion for the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program, which is managed by HHS and the Justice Department. -- by Jessica Zigmond