Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Worth The Read: Interpreting Unclear Medicare Regulations and FCA Liability - U.S. ex rel Parker v. Space Coast Medical Associates, L.L.P.

Dear Readers:

I commend to you the analysis of the Middle District of Florida opinion, U.S. ex rel Space Coast Medical Associates, LLP, 2015 WL 1456122 (M.D. Fla. Feb. 6, 2015), by Arnold and Porter attorneys Mark D. Colley, Alan E. Reider, and Murad Hussain. Space Coast is another example wherein a court refused to find that a defendant "knowingly" submitted false claims when the Medicare regulations at issue were unclear and the defendant's interpretation of the regulations was not unreasonable.

In this qui tam case, the relators alleged that physicians in an oncology practice failed to provide the proper level of supervision required by "Medicare guidelines." In its order granting the motion to dismiss filed by Messrs. Colley, Reider, and Hussain, the Court conducted a thorough analysis of these so called "guidelines" only to find after analyzing the regulations, the Medicare Benefit Policy Manual, and Local Coverage Determinations that they did not actually require "that radiation oncologists be the physicians who supervised the radiation therapists at issue" and that the regulatory authorities relied on by relators were not preconditions for payment of Medicare claims. Following cases such as U.S. ex rel Hixson v. Health Mgmt. System, Inc., 613 F.3d 1186, 1190 (8th Cir. 2010), the Court then went a step further and found that the Defendants did not knowingly submit a false claim because relators had not shown that "Defendants' interpretations of the regulations were unreasonable."

A. Brian Albritton
August 26, 2015

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