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Published on April 02, 2024
San Antonio Medical Entities Fork Over $4M to Settle Federal Kickback AllegationsSource: Google Street View

A high-dollar drama unfolded in the medical community as a San Antonio cancer care group and a diagnostic lab coughed up over $4 million to settle allegations of federal kickback violations. Oncology San Antonio and CorePath Laboratories found themselves deep in the muck after an investigation by federal officials revealed a sneaky arrangement that lined pockets and bent rules, according to reports by the KSAT.

The pricey payment to settle includes $1.3 million from Oncology San Antonio and a hefty $2.7 million plus interest from CorePath Laboratories. Announced by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas, the deal shuts the book on claims that CorePath doled out $115 for every biopsy referral it got from the cancer practice, initiated between 2016 and an undisclosed end date. As the U.S. Attorney's Office asserts, these payments were illegal kickbacks because they were meant to induce referrals for services covered by programs like Medicare, Medicaid, or TRICARE, federal healthcare programs with strict anti-kickback laws.

Adding to the saga, Dr. Jayasree Rao, previously associated with Oncology San Antonio, was roped into the scandal too. She entered the spotlight over accusations of doling out medically unnecessary procedures and billing them to Uncle Sam's insurance programs. Retired as of March, Rao's previous medical practices fed the fire of accusations, admitted through the lips of U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza who condemned the "illegal financial incentives" undermining healthcare's integrity, as reported by the Department of Justice. Rao's retirement, due to personal and health reasons, was announced on Oncology San Antonio's website.

The unsettling revelations came to light thanks to Dr. Slavisa Gasic, a whistleblower with a conscience, who formerly worked under Rao. His hands on the case's launch button squeezed out a portion of any financial recovery for his trouble, righteously permitted under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. This hefty legal tool gives private parties the muscle to file actions on behalf of the government. Through a coordinated investigative dance, several government bodies including the U.S. Attorney’s Office, HHS-OIG, DCIS, and Texas Attorney General's office, brought this tangle to a close.

Oncology San Antonio, despite admitting no guilt in the expensive handshake to avoid courtrooms, thanked their "fellow community physicians, employees, associates, and patients" for support through the storm, unperturbed by the "suit brought almost a decade ago by a disgruntled former employee." Meanwhile, with pens now put down on paper and the money shuffling to settle accounts, a shadow looms over the healthcare community's practices, urging a reminder that the watchful eyes of the law and integrity agreements wait for those who stray from straight paths.