Fresenius plans to appeal $83 million fraud judgment
Fresenius Medical Care officials plan to appeal a ruling in which a federal judge ordered the Nashville-based renal-therapy provider to pay $83 million in civil penalties for defrauding Medicare by improperly inflating requests for payments. U.S. District Judge William Haynes Jr. ruled that Fresenius subsidiaries Renal Care Group and Renal Care Group Supply Co. exhibited a “reckless disregard” toward the federal law that forbids providers of inpatient dialysis treatment from receiving a 30% payment bonus for services provided in patients’ homes. Haynes wrote that the evidence showed that between 1999 and 2005, Fresenius illegally billed Medicare for 3,979 patients under the enhanced-payment method, resulting in total penalties of $82.6 million, including triple damages under the False Claims Act. The summary judgment ruling supersedes a March decision in which the judge concluded the company owed $19 million. Fresenius attorneys said in court records that the payment arrangement was approved by in-house counsel and that “a Medicare official” had assured the company the arrangement was legal. Fresenius spokeswoman Jane Kramer said company officials continue to deny liability in the whistle-blower case. “We are going to appeal, and we expect that the case will be remanded for trial on the merits,” she said.