On February 4, 2021, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), Office of Public Affairs, issued a Press Release (the “DOJ Press Release”) announcing that Kelly Wolfe, President of Regency, Inc., a medical billing company located in Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud through a “pernicious telefraud scheme”[1] involving fraudulent Medicare and CHAMPVA (Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs) claims for medically unnecessary durable medical equipment (“DME”) supplies.  As a result of Wolfe’s criminal plea, Wolfe could face up to 13 years in federal prison. 
Continue Reading OIG Warns Telehealth Industry: “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”

As it continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare sector will face increased antitrust scrutiny from the Biden administration, with the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) and Department of Justice, Antitrust Division (the “DOJ”) (together the “Agencies”) as the Agencies ramp up their reviews not just of “horizontal” transactions (i.e., deals between competitors), but also of “vertical” transactions (i.e., deals that combine market participants at different levels of the healthcare industry, such as payors, hospitals, and physician practices).
Continue Reading Vertical Deals in Healthcare: Key Antitrust Takeaways for Private Equity Firms

On April 10, 2019, the Department of Justice filed notices[1] appealing two District Court rulings that struck down Medicaid work requirements in both Kentucky[2] and Arkansas[3] to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The rulings, issued on March 27, 2019, by Judge James E. Boasberg of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, held that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) acted arbitrarily and capriciously in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) when it approved the Arkansas Works Amendments and Kentucky HEALTH programs. Arkansas and Kentucky halted the programs, pending resolution of the appeals.
Continue Reading Arkansas and Kentucky Halt Medicaid Work Requirements

U.S. Attorney’s Offices (“USAOs”) across the country are issuing warning letters to physicians and other prescribers (collectively, “Prescribers”) cautioning them about their opioid prescribing practices (the “Warning Letters”). In just the last week, the USAO for the Eastern District of Wisconsin sent warning letters to over 180 prescribers identified by Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) data as prescribing opioids at relatively high levels. The Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission have also been issuing their own warning letters to opioid marketers and distributors over the past several months, evidencing a concerted effort to combat the opioid epidemic on a number of fronts through various federal enforcement and regulatory efforts.
Continue Reading Compliance Risk Alert: Opioid Warning Letters issued by the U.S. Department of Justice Target Prescribers

On Monday, September 17, 2018, the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) cleared Cigna’s proposed $67 billion acquisition of Express Scripts, the country’s largest pharmacy benefit manager. While the transaction still needs the approval of certain state regulatory agencies, obtaining the DOJ’s approval was widely seen as the transaction’s most significant obstacle to overcome.
Continue Reading Federal Antitrust Regulators Approve Cigna’s Proposed Acquisition of Express Scripts

On February 26, 2018, twenty states (the “Plaintiffs”) jointly filed a lawsuit[1] in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas requesting that the court strike down the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), as amended by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the “TCJA”), as unconstitutional. The Plaintiffs’ suit gained support from the White House last week, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan on June 7, 2018 (the “Letter”), indicating that the Attorney General’s Office, with approval from President Trump, will not defend the constitutionality of the individual mandate – 26 U.S.C. 5000(A)(a) – and will argue that “certain provisions” of the ACA are inseverable from that provision.[2] The Letter indicates that this is “a rare case where the proper course is to forgo defense” of the individual mandate, reasoning that the Justice Department has declined to defend statutes in the past when the President has concluded that the statute is unconstitutional and clearly indicated that it should not be defended.
Continue Reading Following Repeal of the Individual Mandate, Twenty States Challenge the Affordable Care Act

[1] On January 25, 2018, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand issued a memorandum on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) (the “Brand Memo”) which effectively limits the use and enforcement power of guidance documents for the purposes of affirmative civil enforcement cases, a development that could have a significant impact on how certain healthcare cases are handled at the federal level by federal departments, agencies, and administrations, including those that are fixtures of the healthcare marketplace – the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its constituent agencies, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG).
Continue Reading New DOJ Guidance Policy Limits Use of Guidance Documents in Federal Civil Actions

As reported by the New York Times in an article dated July 13, 2017, in an effort to crack down on fraud and abuse, and with a particular focus on opioids, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) is charging 412 individuals for collectively defrauding the government of around $1.3 billion. Of the individuals implicated, approximately one-third are being accused of opioid-related crimes. These crimes include billing Medicare and Medicaid for drugs that were never purchased, collecting money for fake treatments and tests, and exchanging prescription drugs for money. The fraud and abuse prosecutions are spread across more than 20 states, which include California, New York, Florida, and Texas.
Continue Reading Recent Department of Justice Crackdown on Fraud and Abuse

On February 8th, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) quietly issued new guidance on how the agency evaluates corporate compliance programs during fraud investigations. The guidance, published on the agency’s website as the “Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs,” lists 119 “sample questions” that the DOJ’s Fraud Section has frequently found relevant in determining whether to bring charges or negotiate plea and other agreements. The February 8th issuance is the agency’s first formal guidance under the new presidential administration, and the latest effort by the DOJ’s “compliance initiative,” which launched at the hiring of compliance counsel expert Hui Chen in November 2015. The new guidance is particularly valuable for healthcare organizations in light of the agency’s heightened efforts to prosecute Medicare Advantage plans for fraudulent reporting under the False Claims Act.
Continue Reading DOJ Issues New Guidance on the Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs in Federal Fraud Investigations