SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah medical company has agreed to pay $1.6 million to settle federal false claims allegations involving Medicare.
The settlement with Benjamin D. George and Jody C. Rookstool, along with their company, Western Medical Group, ends two whistleblower complaints filed in December 2013 and February 2014, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The government alleged that the company violated Medicare's prohibition against telephone solicitation of covered products to beneficiaries. Complaints were based primarily on allegations surrounding its use of a telemarketing scheme to sell knee and back braces to Medicare beneficiaries, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
"We use the False Claims Act as a tool to protect the public and recover taxpayer dollars that were lost through fraud. We vigorously pursue these cases on behalf of Utah taxpayers," said U.S. Attorney John Huber.Comment on this story
The money recovered will be put back into federal health care programs where it can be used to provide medical services for the elderly and disabled, Huber said.
Eric Barnhart, FBI special agent in charge in Salt Lake City, said people should be wary of telemarketers who make direct telephone solicitations with no legitimate medical referral and attempt to induce them into buying medical products.
"Promises to waive copayments or efforts to bypass one's legitimate prescribing physician are signs of a fraudulent operation," he said. "The FBI and its partners also applaud those who blow the whistle on fraud."