News Briefs: MCS Advantage Will Pay $4.2M to Settle Kickback Allegations Involving Gift Cards

Medicare Advantage plan operator MCS Advantage, Inc. agreed to pay $4.2 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations that it violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) by offering kickbacks to health care professionals in the form of gift cards. According to the July 1 press release from the U.S. Dept. of Justice, MCS allegedly implemented a gift card incentive program between November 2019 and December 2020, when it distributed 1,703 gift cards to administrative assistants of providers in the aggregate amount of $42,575 to induce them to refer, recommend or arrange for enrollment of 1,646 new Medicare beneficiaries into an MCS plan. The Puerto Rico insurer did not admit liability as part of the settlement agreement. The company voluntarily closed the gift card program in December 2020, which the DOJ and HHS Office of Inspector General took into consideration, according to the press release. “The Settlement highlights the breadth of the AKS, as well as the flexibility that enforcement authorities have in utilizing the AKS as a vehicle to deter behavior deemed to be problematic” and suggest that remuneration to induce referrals of beneficiaries to specific federal health care program plans, along with to specific item or service, may be within the confines of the AKS, the law firm Holland & Knight suggested in a July 11 blog post.

© 2022 MMIT
Lauren Flynn Kelly

Lauren Flynn Kelly Managing Editor, Radar on Medicare Advantage

Lauren has been covering health business issues, including drug benefits and specialty pharmacy, for more than a decade. She served as editor of Drug Benefit News (the predecessor to Radar on Drug Benefits) from 2004 to 2005 and again from 2011 to 2016, and now manages Radar on Medicare Advantage. Lauren graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English.

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