A chain of urology and prostate centers based in the Chicago area agreed to pay $7.3 million to resolve allegations by HHS' inspector general's office that the company and some of its physician investors leveraged referrals to win contracts with unnamed hospitals in the Midwest.
Urology chain agrees to pay $7.3 million
According to the inspector general's office, United Shockwave Therapies, based in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines, and affiliated prostate and urology centers traded referrals for contracts with hospitals in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa to provide lithotripsy and laser treatment of kidney stones and enlarged prostates.
The settlement is one of the largest ever secured under the inspector general's office's authority to impose civil monetary penalties. The office contends the company's business practices violated the anti-kickback statute and restrictions on physician self-referral, or the Stark law. The hospitals were not targeted in the investigation, said Brian Bewley, senior counsel in the inspector general's office.
The agreement, which also requires a corporate integrity agreement, stipulates that United Shockwave does not admit any liability or wrongdoing by settling the matter. In a written statement, the company said it “vehemently disagreed” that its conduct amounted to soliciting kickbacks. “The basis for the OIG's allegations stems from the fact that physician investors in United's affiliate companies want to use United's services to treat their patients.”
Bewley, however, said that the government believes the message was “much stronger than a physician saying I prefer this company over another.” The promise of referring patients to hospitals, Bewley said, was used “in layman's terms, to lock up business for the company and its physician investors.”
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