Lifewatch Services, Inc., an Illinois-based company, recently agreed to pay the United States $18.5 Million to resolve False Claims Act allegations filed by two separate whistleblowers. In addition to the settlement, Lifewatch entered into a comprehensive Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of Inspector General.
The whistleblower complaints alleged that Lifewatch improperly billed Medicare for ambulatory cardiac telemetry (“ACT”) services. According to the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) press release concerning the settlement, “ACT services are a form of cardiac event monitoring that use cell phone technology to record cardiac events in real time without patient intervention.” Under Medicare reimbursement rules, ACT services are not eligible for reimbursement for patients that experience only mild or moderate palpitations. According to the complaints, however, Lifewatch knowingly submitted false diagnostic codes to bill for ACT services provided to patients that experienced mild or moderate palpitations.
In addition to the False Claims Act allegations, the complaints further allege that Lifewatch entered into unlawful kickback arrangements with certain hospitals and medical practices by providing free employees to the entities in order to induce the referral of Medicare patients for ACT services. The whistleblower complaints were filed in U.S. District Courts in Washington and Ohio in 2009 and 2011, respectively.
A full copy of the DOJ press release concerning the settlement can be found here —> DOJ Press Release
You can find a copy of the OIG Corporate Integrity Agreement here —> Lifewatch CIA