DOJ takes over whistleblower case against West Virginia hospital, CEO for improper payments to doctors

U.S. Justice Department
The suit was originally filed under whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act in 2017 by Louis Longo, an executive vice president at the hospital. (Coolcaesar/Wikimedia)

The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against West Virginia-based Wheeling Hospital, its CEO Ronald Violi and R&V Associates, the managing consultant contracted to operate the hospital.

The suit was originally filed under whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act in 2017 by Louis Longo, an executive vice president at the hospital who was represented by Phillips & Cohen LLP. The law allows private parties to sue on behalf of the United States for false claims and share in any recovery.

The Act permits the United States to intervene and take over the lawsuit, as it did here in part. The DOJ first joined the suit in December.

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RELATED: Intermountain takes its challenge of False Claims Act to the Supreme Court

Under the suit, the feds allege the hospital and its leaders violated the Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute because compensation to a number of employed and contracted physicians was based on the volume or value of the physicians’ referrals or exceeded the fair market value of the physicians’ services.

"Improper financial arrangements between hospitals and physicians can influence the type and amount of health care that is provided," Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division said in a statement.

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