Lawsuit: Two Central Florida Medical Practices Accused of Violating Anti-Kickback Laws
According to reporting from the Orlando Sentinel, AdventHealth and Florida Cancer Specialists are facing allegations that they violated federal antitrust regulations and anti-kickback laws.
Mid Florida Cancer Centers, an oncology practice with four locations in Central Florida, filed a lawsuit accusing the defendants of crafting an illegal non-compete and referral agreement. The plaintiff alleges that the agreement not only violated the law, but caused it financial damage.
In this article, our Miami physician practice management & litigation attorneys detail the allegations raised in the lawsuit. Additionally, we explain the importance of complying with anti-kickback regulations.
The Lawsuit: Antitrust and Referral Violations
Treating cancer is extremely complicated — both from a purely medical perspective and a business perspective. There are a number of different services that are offered by medical practices that fall under the umbrella of ‘oncology’. In its lawsuit, Mid Florida Cancer Centers alleges that the defendants in this case essentially agreed to divide up the oncology services market in two Florida Counties: Volusia County and Flagler County.
More specifically, the plaintiff contends that AdventHealth agreed to only provide radiation and imaging services. The other defendant, Florida Cancer Specialists, agreed to provide only medical and hematology oncology services. In other words, the lawsuit accuses these companies of engaging in an illegal agreement not to compete within certain types of services. Further, the complaint states that the companies referred patients to each other.
Antitrust and Kickback Violations
If the allegations raised by Mid Florida Cancer Centers are proved to be true, then the conduct described in this case may violate both federal antitrust regulations and anti-kickback laws.
First, under the antitrust laws, companies cannot make this type of explicit non compete agreement. Markets must be free, open, and fair. Large firms are prohibited from using their power to divide up the access to markets or to control prices.
Beyond the potential antitrust issues raised in the lawsuit, it is worth noting that there are strict state and federal anti-kickback statutes that regulate the healthcare industry. The most important anti-kickback law is called the ‘Stark Law’. It is a regulation designed to stop financially motivated medical decision making.
When medical practices participate in federal programs, they must comply with all anti-kickback regulations. Failure to do so is a serious violation. To start, it could subject a medical practice to harsh financial penalties. Beyond that, it could lead to a medical practice being permanently excluded from federal health programs — including Medicare and Medicaid, a sanction that could potentially destroy the viability of a professional practice.
Get Help From Our Miami Medical Practice Litigation Lawyers Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida business lawyers represent physician practices. We have extensive experience handling anti-kickback statute cases. To learn more about what our law firm can do for you, please call us for a strictly confidential consultation. With an office location in Miami and West Palm Beach, we represent medical practices and medical professionals throughout South Florida.