New Jersey Doctors Exchanged Bribes for Referrals Says Feds

Federal authorities charged 15 doctors and a handful of other health care providers this past Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011 for an allegedly illegal referral system in the New Jersey area. The alleged white collar crimes arose when the doctors referred patients to a specific diagnostic testing facility and were paid for those referrals.

Authorities are calling the referral system a kickback scheme and stated their belief that it began in 2010. Those arrested were charged with one count of violating federal health care anti-kickback statutes and could each be forced to pay fines or could even face up to five years in prison.

The alleged bribes to each individual ranged from $200 per month to approximately $5,000 per month. The largest calculated period was between October and December 2011 when authorities investigated 32 payments. The referrals made were for tests, including MRI’s, ultrasounds or CT scans.

Although authorities have traced the funds that were allegedly exchanged and the referrals themselves, they have been unable to confirm whether any of the referrals were for unnecessary procedures. It appears that the tests may have been necessary, but authorities say that they should have been directed to a multiple number of testing facilities.

An undercover witness who agreed to cooperate with police during the investigation helped keep track of the alleged bribes. The undercover witness was able to obtain the information by posing as an employee at one of the locations suspected to be involved in the scheme. The witness noted whether the patient’s were Medicaid or Medicare patients or privately insured.

Source: ajc, “NJ doctors arrested in alleged kickback scheme,” Samantha Henry, Dec. 13, 2011

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