Diagnostic biomarker labs may be violating anti-kickback laws by payings docs

Diagnostic laboratories part of a booming business of selling “biomarker” tests to help doctors predict various diseases in patients including heart disease,  may be violating federal kickback laws which prohibit paying the doctors who send in the patients blood for testing. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General is investigating a number of laboratories nationwide, specializing in cardiac biomarker testing.

Some of them bundle a number of blood tests with the biomarker tests and receive $1000 or more from Medicare. One company has been paying $20 per blood sample to the doctors who order the tests, which is more than most labs.

Anti kickback laws prohibit payment of moneys to healthcare workers or physicians in return for their sending business to a company. However, the labs say that their payment is an exception to the law which allows them to reimburse doctors for their handling costs of sending the blood to the labs.

One company performing the tests has earned $383 million in revenues in 2013, 41% of that from Medicare.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.