Qui Tam Leads to Federal Kickback Charges For Hilton Head Hospital Exec

Qui Tam Lawsuit Results in Federal Kickback Charges

federal kickback chargesIn a separate filing stemming from the whistleblower lawsuit against Tenet Healthcare and its federal kickback scheme with Clinica de la Mama in Hilton Head, SC, a former executive from Hilton Head Hospital now faces federal kickback charges for his role in the financial fraud.

Gary W. Lang, the vice president of business development at Hilton Head Hospital from 2004 to 2006, was indicted on federal kickback charges on July 23rd.

The original whistleblower lawsuit contended that Hilton Head Hospital, parent company Tenet Healthcare, and four clinics in Georgia called Clinica de la Mama worked together in a federal kickback scheme to receive more Medicaid money for births to undocumented immigrant women. Medicaid will reimburse hospitals for deliveries to undocumented immigrant mothers, because childbirth qualifies as a medical emergency. Otherwise, federal programs will not reimburse hospitals.

However, hospitals are not allowed to pay for patient referrals if a government program will pay for the medical procedure. In this case, Tenet Healthcare still paid Clinical de la Mama for referrals, a practice that began at Hilton Head Hospital under Elizabeth Lamkin, who was the CEO of Hilton Head Hospital from 2002 to 2009. The scheme was designed to get Tenet Healthcare more revenue from Medicaid.

Lamkin has not yet been arrested on  federal kickback charges.

Tracey Cota, the former chief operation officer of Clinica de la Mama from 2000 to 2010, also faces federal charges related to the whistleblower case.

The federal charges against Lang allege that he intentionally entered the referral agreement with Clinica de la Mama, knowing that Hilton Head Hospital could illegally receive more money from Medicaid. The lawsuit also alleges that, when he left Hilton Head Hospital to become CEO at Clearview Regional Medical Center in Monroe, GA, he duplicated the kickback scheme.

Cota, who faced similar federal kickback charges, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback statute on Wednesday, August 5th.  Cota will enter a plea agreement with the Attorney General’s office.

Lang has also reportedly waived indictment and will enter a plea agreement.

Federal Kickback Defense in South Carolina

Kickbacks refer to a form of negotiated bribery in which one returns part of the purchase price of an item to a buyer or buyer’s representative with the intent of inducing a purchase or improperly influencing purchases in the future.

Under federal law, kickbacks involving government officials or public funds provided by the government are illegal.

Not all kickbacks are considered illegal, however. If a kickback does not specifically violate the federal or state law, the kickback may be considered normal, legal and tax deductible. Tax deductibility is prohibited by an official, employee of the federal government or an official or employee of a foreign government.

If you or your company has been accused of kickbacks, or violation of federal kickback law, a South Carolina federal criminal defense attorney at the Strom Law Firm, LLC can help. With long standing experience with both state and federal cases, we know what it takes to aggressively defend you. Call a South Carolina Federal Criminal Defense Attorney at the Strom Law Firm today for a free consultation. 803.252.4800.

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