US Intervenes in False Claims Suit Against Alere, Arriva Medical

Regulatory NewsRegulatory News | 20 February 2019 |  By 

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday that federal prosecutors intervened in a lawsuit under the False Claims Act whistleblower provisions against a former supplier of blood glucose monitoring supplies.

The case alleges that Arriva Medical and its parent company Alere “submitted or caused false claims to the Medicare program for medically unnecessary glucometers and paid kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries in the form of free glucometers and copayment waivers,” according to DOJ. The court was also informed earlier this month of an Arriva reimbursement consultant that was added as a defendant.

The original complaint was filed with the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee in 2013 by a former employee of Arriva, which ceased supplying blood glucose monitoring supplies under the Medicare competitive bidding program in 2017. The case was brought against Arriva and Alere—both of which were acquired by Abbott in 2017 after Alere took over Arriva in 2011. Abbott sought to and failed to terminate its purchase in court the year prior amid false claims allegations.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services revoked the billing number in 2016 that Arriva previously used to bill Medicare for durable medical equipment. An order of Arriva’s durable medical equipment had been shipped more than 14 days after a Medicare beneficiary’s death, DOJ said. Arriva also allegedly offered free upgrades of its glucometers to certain Medicare beneficiaries. Yet offering benefits to induce patients to purchase a company’s items or services violates the anti-kickback statute.

“Medicare rules bar payment for medically unnecessary services and supplies,” said Derrick Jackson, special agent in charge at the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General. “Such schemes only benefit suppliers billing for products that patients neither want nor need.”

The US was directed by a 14 February court order to file its complaint within the next three months. It is intervening in the part of the action that alleges Arriva and Alere submitted or caused false claims and declining to intervene in the remaining allegations. The intervention does not cover 22 states. But it does include Massachusetts, which is where Alere was based, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii and Washington, among several others.



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