National dialysis provider agrees to pay $450 million settlement for improper billing

One of the largest dialysis providers in the country has agreed to pay nearly half a billion dollars to settle claims that it improperly billed Medicare by intentionally wasting larger vials of medicine, according to Reuters.  

The whistleblower lawsuit was filed by a physician and a nurse in 2007 after they noticed the Denver-based provider was billing Medicare for large vials of vitamin D and iron supplements, according to The Denver Post. The pair, who worked for DaVita Healthcare Partners Inc. in Atlanta, alleged the provider would use a small portion of medicine on the patient and discard the rest, billing Medicare at a higher rate. In 2011, after following a two-year investigation, the Department of Justice opted not to join the suit.

The settlement was revealed by DaVita earlier this week when it reported setting aside $495 million for the case--$450 will go toward the settlement and $45 million are reserved for legal fees and costs, noted Reuters. 

"Although we believe strongly in the merits of our case, we decided it was in our stakeholders' best interests to resolve it," Chief Legal Officer for DaVita HealthCare Partners Kim Rivera said in a statement. "The potential mandatory penalties for being found in the wrong in even a small percentage of instances were simply too large."

The most recent announcement marks the third multi-million dollar false claims settlement that the company has paid out over the last three years. In 2012, DaVita settled a whistleblower claim for $55 million to resolve claims surrounding an anemia drug, according to The Denver Post. Last October, the company paid $389 million to settle allegations that it paid kickbacks to physicians that referred patients with kidney disease.

For more:
- read the Reuters article
- here's The Denver Post article
- see DaVita's statement

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