Judge favors Lincare in whistleblower lawsuit
MIAMI – A federal judge has ruled that two former Lincare employees failed to prove the provider violated Medicare telemarketing rules.
U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams on July 10 issued a partial summary judgment that freed Lincare from most of the charges outlined in a whistleblower lawsuit accusing the provider of violating the False Claims Act.
The plaintiffs had argued that Lincare and its subsidiary, Diabetic Experts, violated Medicare rules by using improper sales leads to make unsolicited phone calls to beneficiaries, and by using “purportedly” false assignment of benefits given to Lincare.
The judge ruled that Diabetic Experts is a subsidiary of Lincare, not a separate entity; therefore, because the beneficiaries had received oxygen supplies from Lincare within the 15-month time period before the calls, those calls do not violate the False Claims Act.
The judge also ruled that all of the assignments of benefit in question “contain clear language providing for services to be rendered by ‘Lincare’ or ‘Supplier.’”
The plaintiffs have also charged, however, that other false claims might “lie” with Med4Home, Reliant Pharmacy Services, or other entities related to Lincare.
The judge ruled that both parties must file a joint status report by July 22 indicating what claims, if any, remain and how they want to proceed.