As my gift to you, here’s a free stay out of jail pass. But it does require a bit of effort on your part.
Step 1: Read this short post.
Step 2: Print it out and trim off extra margins.
Step 3: Fold it so that it fits into your wallet.
Step 4: Pull it out and reread it once a week or more often, if needed.
The chance to get a little something back, a vig, a taste, a cut.
It’s a story nearly as old as time itself, but not normally the story one tells oneself. Then, it’s usually a “business deal”.
Perhaps that’s the story that the surgeons who did business with Impartial Medical Experts, LLC (“IME”), told themselves.
The United States government is telling a different story, one that they are alleging in intervening in two whistleblower lawsuits in Massachusetts.
In that intervention, the government’s complaint centers around defendant Kingsley Chin, M.D., described as the founder and Chief Executive Officer of defendant SpineFrontier, a spine device manufacturer. The complaint alleges that Dr. Chin is also the founder and principal owner of defendants KIC Management Group Inc. and KICVentures LLC, which own and operate defendant SpineFrontier and defendant IME of which defendant Vanessa Dudley, Dr. Chin’s wife, was the sole employee.
According to the complaint, the defendants paid spine surgeons over $8 million in sham “consulting” payments ostensibly for product evaluations, when in fact the payments were for use of SpineFrontier devices.
The government claims that the “consulting” spine surgeons were generally paid $500 for a cervical procedure, and $1,000 for a lumbar procedure — but only if the surgeon used SpineFrontier devices — and that the spine surgeons often performed little or no work beyond implanting the devices, for which they were separately paid by carriers, including federal health care programs.
It’s also alleged that the defendants didn’t systematically collect or use feedback from the “consultants” and paid them even when they had provided no feedback at all. Surgeons allegedly could “consult” on SpineFrontier devices in this manner an unlimited number of times so long as they continued using the SpineFrontier product in surgery.
Although the complaint states the names of multiple spine surgeons, none are named as defendants in the action. It’s likely that the government will pursue those physicians individually, perhaps criminally, as the story unfolds.
And that’s the benefit of keeping this short but sad story in your wallet. Pull it out whenever anyone related to your practice offers to pay you for something. Yes, something as in anything.
Remind yourself that the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) prohibits offering, paying, soliciting, or receiving remuneration to induce referrals of items or services covered by Medicare, TRICARE, and other federally funded programs.
Remind yourself that the AKS doesn’t simply support False Claims Act civil claims; it’s a criminal statute, the violation of which leads to actual jail time and large fines.
Remind yourself that, as you read this today and three weeks from today when you remember to pull it out again, that physicians like you are sitting in their cells today and that you don’t want to join them.
Treat this clipping as a get out of jail free card and indeed it will be. Or, at least, for slightly more, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org before you take those consulting fees or accept rent for that closet, or let your spouse take that part-time position as a manufacturer’s rep.
Put this in your wallet. Now.
Comment or contact me if you’d like to discuss this post.
Mark F. Weiss