Indiana University Health/HealthNet pay $18 mill to end whistleblower case on use of mid-wives

Indiana Whistleblower News

Indiana University Health Inc. (IU Health) and HealthNet Inc., have agreed to pay $18 million to resolve allegations that they violated federal and state false claims laws by engaging in an illegal kickback scheme related to the referral of HealthNet’s OB/GYN patients to IU Health’s Methodist Hospital. Œ The settlement resolves a whistleblower lawsuit filed by Judith Robinson, M.D., a Board Certified Ob/Gyn and Fellow of the American College of Obsetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Robinson worked at HealthNet and from 2010 through 2012 was also the Assistant Ob/Gyn Residency Director for the Methodist Hospital campus. Dr. Robinson was represented by Jillian Estes Esq. of Tampa Florida. The Complaint alleged that IU Health and HealthNet utilized certified nurse midwives and nurse practitioners to treat all obstetric patients regardless of risk factors that mandate the use of physicians. Indiana Medicaid plainly conditions the payment of public healthcare money for the treatment of medically high-risk pregnant women on the requirement that those women be treated only by a physician.

The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits, among other things, the knowing and willful payment of any remuneration to induce the referral of services or items that are paid for by a federal health care program, such as Medicaid. Claims submitted to federal health care programs in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute are also false claims under the False Claims Act. The United States alleged that from May 1, 2013 through Aug. 30, 2016, IU Health provided HealthNet with an interest-free line of credit, the balance of which consistently exceeded $10 million. United States further alleged that HealthNet was not expected to repay a substantial portion of this loan and that this financial arrangement was intended to induce HealthNet to refer its OB/GYN patients to IU Health’s Methodist Hospital.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in federal court in Indianapolis, Indiana, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the United States for false claims and to share in any recovery. The lawsuit was filed by Dr. Judith Robinson, who formerly held a number of positions at both Methodist Hospital and HealthNet. Under the settlement, Dr. Robinson will receive approximately $2.8 million out of the federal share of the recovery.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.