Massachusetts Eye and Ear to pay $5.7M in false claims settlement

Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston has agreed to pay over $5.7 million to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act, the Justice Department reported May 24. 

Seven of the facility's physician compensation plans allegedly violate the Physician Self-Referral Law, also known as the Stark Law, which prohibits physicians from referring patients to receive “designated health services” payable by Medicare from entities where the physician has a financial relationship, unless the arrangement falls into the exceptions provided for by law. It also prohibits the entity from billing Medicare for those services. 

Boston-based Mass General Brigham acquired the facility in 2018. The seven plans, which involve 44 physicians, were in place prior to the acquisition. One plan ended before the acquisition, and Mass General terminated the remaining six plans in 2019. 

The investigation was prompted by allegations from a lawsuit filed by a whistleblower under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. The whistleblower will receive 17 percent of the settlement, according to the release. 

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