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Indian-American couple to pay over $420,000 to settle kickback charges

New York, Dec 16 (IANS) An Indian-American couple has agreed to pay $422,789 to resolve allegations that they received illegal kickbacks in return for referring patients for laboratory testing.

Dr Vijesh Patel and his office manager and wife Laju Patel of Texas, received kickbacks in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute in return for the doctor’s referrals to three laboratories in New Jersey, Texas and South Carolina.

The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits offering, paying, soliciting, or receiving remuneration to induce referrals of items or services covered by Medicare, Medicaid and other federally funded healthcare programs.

From December 2016 to July 2018, Vijesh allegedly received thousands of dollars in payments from a purported management service organisation (MSO) named Indus MG LLC in return for ordering laboratory tests from True Health Diagnostics LLC, a clinical laboratory in Frisco, Texas.

The Indus MSO’s payments to Vijesh allegedly were disguised as investment returns but in fact were based on, and offered in exchange for, his referrals to True Health, a Department of Justice statement read.

From August 2018 to August 2021, Vijesh allegedly received thousands of dollars in kickbacks disguised as investment returns from a purported MSO named Avior Group LLC in return for ordering laboratory tests from New Jersey-based RDx Bioscience, Inc.

In addition, fom December 2018 to August 2022, his wife Laju allegedly received kickbacks from RDx in the form of commercially unreasonable fees to purportedly collect urine specimens for testing that Vijesh referred to RDx.

Vijesh also allegedly received hundreds of dollars per month from August 2019 to December 2021 in return for ordering laboratory tests from Labtech Diagnostics LLC (Labtech), in Anderson, South Carolina.

“Kickbacks can undermine a physician’s medical judgment, result in unnecessary testing, and increase health care costs borne by taxpayers,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, in a statement.

“We will continue to pursue physicians, laboratories, and others responsible for schemes that violate rules intended to safeguard the integrity of federal health care programmes,” Boynton added.

Apart from paying the amount to resolve False Claims Act allegations against them, the couple has also agreed to cooperate in a justice department probe against other participants in alleged schemes.

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