Lincare agrees to pay U.S. government $3.15 million

Monday, December 31, 2001

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Linacre agreed to pay the U.S. government $3.15 million last month to settle charges that two of its California operations improperly billed Medicare for home oxygen equipment, therapeutic ventilators and albuterol sulfate.

The settlement allows Lincare to pay the government without admitting any wrongdoing.

"The government does all kinds of investigations and most of them don't pan out," said a Lincare source. "Nothing has every happened to Lincare as a result of an investigation, criminally or civilly. Nothing."

The settlement resolves the government's contention that Lincare's Chico and Redding locations repeatedly billed Medicare from 1995-1997 for home oxygen equipment using blood-gas tests obtained by Lincare employees, a practice Medicare doesn't allow. It also resolves the government's allegations that the two locations billed Medicare for equipment that was not medically necessary and that employees completed portions of CMNs that Medicare requires doctors to fill in.

As part of the settlement, Linacre will enter into a corporate integrity agreement with the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

John P. Byres, Linacre's CEO, stated in a release, "We are pleased to resolve this matter with the U.S. Attorney's Office. Since the original request for information over three years ago, Lincare has fully cooperated with the government. We believe that it was in the best interests of our employees and shareholders to put this matter behind us." HME