Omnicare Inc., the nation’s largest provider of pharmaceuticals and pharmacy services to nursing homes, has agreed to pay $124.24 million for allegedly offering improper financial incentives to skilled nursing facilities in return for their continued selection of Omnicare to supply drugs to elderly Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.
The settlement resolves allegations that Omnicare submitted false claims by entering into below-cost contracts to supply prescription medication and other pharmaceutical drugs to skilled nursing facilities and their resident patients to induce the facilities to select Omnicare as their pharmacy provider. The facilities were participating providers under agreements with Medicare and Medicaid. In addition to the facilities’ own claims for reimbursement from Medicare for short-term rehabilitation treatment rendered to patients, Omnicare submitted additional claims for reimbursement to Medicare and Medicaid for drugs Omnicare supplied. Of the $124.24 million to be paid by Omnicare, $8.24 million will go to various states which jointly funded the Medicaid programs impacted by Omnicare’s conduct.
The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits offering, paying, soliciting or receiving remuneration to induce referrals of items or services covered by Medicare, Medicaid and other federally funded programs. The Anti-Kickback Statute is intended to ensure that the selection of health care providers and suppliers is not compromised by improper financial incentives and is instead based on the best interests of the patient.
The settlement resolves allegations brought in two lawsuits filed by whistleblowers under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private parties to bring suit on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery. The first whistleblower, Donald Gale, a former Omnicare employee, will receive $ 17.24 million.