Sanford Health to pay millions in kickback scheme

Published: Oct. 28, 2019 at 3:42 PM CDT
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Sanford Health has agreed to pay more than $20 million to the federal government in a settlement for a kickback scheme involving one of its top neurosurgeons.

In a press release from the Department of Justice, Sanford will pay $20.25 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations that they knowingly submitted false claims to federal healthcare programs resulting from violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute and medically unnecessary spinal surgeries.

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 programs.

The Department of Justice said Sanford allegedly received warnings from Dr. Wilson Asfora’s physician colleagues and others about the alleged kickback scheme and was aware of the heightened compliance risks associated with PODs. In addition, Asfora’s colleagues, others repeatedly warned Sanford that the neurosurgeon was performing medically unnecessary procedures involving the devices in which he had a substantial financial interest.

The allegations originally brought in a lawsuit filed by Carl Dustin Bechtold and Bryan Wellman, surgeons at Sanford, under the whistleblower, or qui tam, provision of the False Claims Act, which allows private parties to bring suit on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery. The whistleblowers will receive $3.4 million of the settlement proceeds.