The company, Ameritox, is suing one of its competitors, Millennium Laboratories, a company that provides drug testing services for health care professionals. In Millennium's counterclaim, the filing alleges that Ameritox has engaged in unlawful schemes designed to maintain and enlarge its business and increase the value of the firm for the venture capital firms that own and control it at the expense of Millennium and the American public.
From the lawsuit:
Ameritox’s most disturbing conduct involves encouraging health care providers to order testing based on the patient’s insurance coverage, not on the basis of medical necessity, a practice that financially benefits Ameritox but works to the detriment of patients and certain third party payers, most notably including the federal Medicare program. This practice has enriched Ameritox’s owners and investors, including Sterling Partners, Bain Capital Venture Partners, LLC, and Sequoia Capital at the expense of the American people.
These tactics are nothing new for Ameritox: The company has a long and continuing history of offering illegal kickbacks to physicians for referrals. Ameritox’s improper inducements include, but are not limited to, placing personnel in the offices of Ameritox’s customers in violation of state law prohibitions on such placement; providing free or below- market point-of-care testing cups to generate extra revenue for practitioners who use those cups to perform billable testing; and offering other various inducements and kickbacks to practitioners and their medical practices, including gift cards, meals, computers, and office parties. Ameritox’s fraudulent and illegal practices are pervasive and undertaken as part of a scheme to increase its revenues at the expense of Millennium, other competitors, patients, and the United States.
Ameritox is notorious for engaging in fraudulent business practices to gain an unfair competitive advantage. In fact, Ameritox currently is operating under government oversight as a result of a Department of Justice (“DOJ”) investigation, which covered an approximately six-year period of time and charged that Ameritox paid kickbacks to induce health care providers to refer Medicare business to Ameritox. Despite being subject to a five- year Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services (“OIG”) and promising to change its ways, Ameritox has continued to engage in unlawful and anti-competitive conduct in Florida, California, Texas, and throughout the country that is designed to harm Millennium.
Ameritox engages in illegal behavior by changing its testing recommendations to physicians based on insurance coverage. Ameritox’s bottom-line driven strategy includes encouraging health care providers to order tests for patients based on whether their insurance coverage provides lucrative reimbursement instead of based on medical need. Thus, Ameritox pushes frequent testing for patients covered by Medicare or other favorable insurance plans but discourages physicians from testing uninsured patients or patients who do not qualify for reimbursement from third-party payers for such tests.
The filings allege that Ameritox offers financial incentives that flout anti-kickback and unfair financial inducement laws, and that Ameritox continues practices challenged by the DOJ and disallowed in several states.
A Texas laboratory agreed to pay $16.3 million in a civil settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
The settlement is a notable achievement in a continuing campaign against health care fraud in the Tampa Bay area, Robert O’Neill, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, said in a statement.
The settlement addresses allegations that Ameritox LTD paid kickbacks to providers in order to induce them to refer Medicare business, according to a statement from O’Neill’s office.
The federal government will receive $15.5 million from the settlement. The rest will be split among various states.
The federal share of the settlement will provide a $3.4 million payout to a former Ameritox sales representative, Debra Maul. Maul filed suit in the Middle District of Florida under the qui tam (whistle blower) provisions of federal legislation that allows private citizens with knowledge of fraud against the government to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the United States and to share in any recovery.
Ameritox also sued a low wage working grandmother when the doctor's office she worked at fired Ameritox because they weren't happy with their work. The office switched to another laboratory. Because they were happy with the work Pamela Rockwell did, they recommended her to the replacement company which hired her.
Saying she violated a non-compete agreement, Ameritox sued her, claiming that she had "trade secrets." Rockwell feared losing her job due to the lawsuit, a job that pays only $11.50 an hour.
Bain Capital continues to make a profit at the expense of the companies it gobbles up, and at the expense of those who work for them. In the case of Pamela Rockwell, they compound the misery by suing them, while putting them out of a job. Yet Mitt Romney campaigns on his experience at "job creation" and attacks those who point out the human costs of the ways he does business.
At the same time Paul Ryan was in Tampa giving misleading information on Medicare cuts that would cut down on fraud and waste, Mitt Romney's former company was benefiting from those very things. The Medicare cuts that Paul Ryan's plan include, the very same as Obama's, would go back to the companies themselves and not to the benefit of patients as Obama's will.
Last night when Mitt Romney made his nomination acceptance speech, he said this:
Paul Ryan and I understand how the economy works, we understand how Washington works, we will reach across the aisle and find good people who like us, want to make sure this company deals with its challenges. We’ll get America on track again.
Calling the country a "company" may have been a mere slip, but old habits die hard. Mitt Romney himself says, after all, that he wants to run the country like a business. If he succeeds, he'll put profits over people and government services.
That may be good for companies, but not for Americans.
"The short answer to your request is found in the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and in Article 1, Section 8 of the Florida Constitution," Scott replied.
Both sections guarantee citizens' rights to keep and bear guns, he noted.
In his letter, Buckhorn appealed to the governor to restrict carrying firearms during the RNC in downtown Tampa under the emergency powers granted to the governor during times of emergency. Given the highly charged atmosphere surrounding the RNC, placing no limits on gun possession could increase the threat to public safety, Buckhorn's letter argued.
Scott replied that he understood Buckhorn's concern. The city already plans to ban sticks, poles, water guns and lots of other potential weapons from a downtown "event zone."
(In his letter, Scott adds this:"Firearms are noticeably included, however, in the 2nd Amendment. The choice to allow the government to ban sticks and poles, but not firearms, is one that the People made in enacting their state and federal constitutions.)
"But it is unclear how disarming law-abiding citizens would better protect them from the dangers and threats posed by those who would flout the law," Scott wrote. "It is at just such times that the constitutional right to self defense is most precious and must be protected from government overreach."
Scott said he was confident law enforcement would be able to protect Tampa's citizens and visitors without the extra step of banning guns.
Buckhorn said he wasn't concerned with people licensed to carry concealed weapons, a list that used to include him. He said he was more worried about one of those licensed weapons getting loose and landing in the wrong hands.
"Some of the people that will be here in August are not exactly model citizens," he said. "I think even the most ardent 2nd Amendment supporter would understand why I made that request."
Yes, even the most ardent 2nd Amendment supporters would understand Buckhorn's point, (not to mention law-enforcement officers) but this is Rick Scott we're talking about, and we can add this to the very long list of things that he fails to understand about governing.
Also not shocking is the hypocrisy employed in Scott's decision.
It seems Gov. Scott would prefer risking a "shootout at the O.K. Corral" situation rather than diss the NRA trample on one's constitutional rights. After all, Scott is a well known defender of constitutional rights!
“We have had political conventions in this country since the dawn of the Republic. They are an essential means of furthering our constitutional rights to free speech and to vote. “Our fundamental right to keep and bear arms has coexisted with those freedoms for just as long, and I see no reason to depart from that tradition this year.”
Surely you jest, Gov. Overreach? Our constitutional rights to free speech and to vote? In Rick Scott's Florida, constitutional rights are selective.
In fact, Rick Scott spends a great deal of time AND money on issues dealing with the rights of Floridians. Unfortunately it's taxpayer money, and it's due to Scott restricting those rights rather than defending them, and we all pay dearly on both counts. Never mind that the courts have often ruled in our favor. Scott, or the "Supreme Executive" as he refers to himself, just declares those courts "wrong" and we're forced to spend more on seemingly endless appeals. So many, in fact, when Scott "disagreed" with a judge recently who found an unconstitutional breach of contract where Scott cut state salaries to offset pensions, the governor's press release began with: "As you would expect, I believe this decision is simply wrong."
This year the Florida legislature passed yet another drug testing law even though the last one they passed is held up in court. The latest law allows for random drug testing of state employees. Not only is the drug testing itself controversial, so is the fact that lawmakers made sure that they themselves are not among those who will be tested.
Among its dubious achievements this year, the Florida Legislature passed a law authorizing random drug tests for state workers.
Guess who’s exempt? Lawmakers themselves.
So now the clerk down at the DMV gets to pee in a cup — but not the knuckleheads in Tallahassee who control $70 billion in public funds.
Whom do you think is more dangerous to the future of Florida?
In the session that just ended, the Legislature jacked up tuition on state college students while creating a new university to placate one cranky senator. It threw more than 4,400 state workers out of their jobs while handing out more than $800 million in tax break to businesses.
Clearly, legislators are impaired. Is it meth? Coke? Mushrooms?
We’ll never know.
Not only did they hand all those tax breaks to big corporations, but they virtually ignored a law from back in 2006 that's tantamount to legally ripping off Florida consumers.
A financing scheme that initially seemed plausible has proven to be terribly unfair, leaving Progress Energy customers with more than $1.1 billion in bills and a real possibility of nothing to show for their money. For legislative leaders to not respond — particularly in these tight financial times — is irresponsible.
The so-called nuclear recovery law was pitched as a way to add cleaner, cheaper power generation in a rapidly growing state. Customers would pay a little bit each month toward building the very expensive plants in order to avoid being saddled with big bills for construction once they opened. But in hindsight, it was also a way for the power companies to avoid scrutiny from shareholders or Wall Street bankers. With a guaranteed revenue stream and a major loophole in the law, the pressure to perform evaporated.
As the Tampa Bay Times' Ivan Penn reported last Sunday, the law was not a limited authorization to pass nuclear planning and building costs to the consumer. It allows a fee that includes a profit margin for the utility — regardless of performance. By one estimate, Progress Energy is already entitled to keep at least $150 million in revenue from this scheme even as it has delayed construction of its proposed Levy County plant by at least five years and announced that costs have quadrupled. The company even delayed some fee recovery it was entitled to, proclaiming it was just trying to help its customers. But even that decision will end up profiting Progress Energy.]
[Yet legislative leaders stubbornly and arrogantly refused to reconsider the 2006 law and its twisted incentives — even as a growing number of former legislators who voted for the bill said they had no idea what they were doing. During the recent session, Senate majority leader and energy committee chairman Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, repeatedly refused a request from Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, for a committee hearing on the issue. Gardiner's claim that the law saves consumers money is so 2006. That now seems like an incredible long shot.
This comes on top of the already costly botched repairs at the nuclear plant in Crystal River that will likely remain offline for years.
For Floridians who are already facing a grim economy and watching all those tax breaks go to businesses while their own costs keep adding up, they're also required to "pay" Progress Energy for literally nothing in return.
I have to agree, Mr. Hiaasen does indeed have a point.
A modest energy bill restoring millions in expired renewable energy tax credits was passed.
The "Jurassic Park" bill is on it's way to Gov. Scott which will allow him to decide whether 16 Florida zoos and aquariums should be able to lease state-owned land to conduct "enhanced research" on a variety of animals, including giraffes, zebras and rhinoceroses.
Protests in the Capitol: Floridians For A Fair Economy, including United Health Care Workers East union members fill the fourth floor rotunda of the Capitol, Thursday, regarding quality health care and jobs.
For a guy who claims to be against just about everything President Obama stands for, Florida Governor Rick Scott sure jumps at the chance to dine with him at the White House in a hurry, no doubt at taxpayers expense.
The nation’s governors huddled with President Barack Obama to talk about jobs and education on Monday, but Florida Gov. Rick Scott flew back home instead.
Scott and his wife did attend a White House black-tie dinner on Sunday during the National Governors Association winter meetings. He and other governors munched on South Lawn garden salad, rib-eye steak with creamed spinach, and pear tart with ice cream.
Nice meal if you can get it. I'll bet that sounds mighty tasty to the welfare recipients who Scott would force to pay for their own drug tests before they could afford groceries if he had his way too.
For one who calls himself the "jobs governor" you would think staying to talk about jobs aftewards would be a priority, but instead after his meal Scott said "Gotta run!" and came home instead.
You would also think that membership with the NGA which focuses on policies like job creation rather than partisan politics as the Republican Governors Association does would be a worthwhile thing to, but Scott begs to differ and plans to drop that NGA membership because he doesn't think membership dues are worth the expense.
Of course, to Scott, neither are jobs.
But Scott and his wife flying to Washington for the sole purpose of dining in style at the White House while also complaining about the President's so-called "spending" problem?
I wouldn't be at all surprised if The Daily Show team started showing up down here more often just for some time "off" because there's a lot more crazy where this came from and "jokes" like Rick Scott and Scott Plakon pretty much write themselves:
I hate to be a downer going into the weekend, but since the Republicans and their enablers insist on dazzling us with non-issues, clowns debating the non-issues, and loads of just plain nonsense to distract us from reality, I'll happily decorate this post to get your attention and take my chances you'll read it in case you missed some of the following items in the news this week. Chances are good that you did. The chattering classes are deafening. Call it a gift of tough love.
“You've benefited from hundreds of tho [sic] of taxpayer dollars over the years so would you be willing to pee into this cut to prove to Florida taxpayers that you're not on drugs,'' asked Comedy Central reporter, Aasif Mandvi. It was a reference to the governor’s drug-testing requirement imposed on all state employees and all welfare recipients.
Scott looked straight at him, didn’t miss a beat and said: "I’ve done it plenty of times.”
Mandvi then attempted to hand the sealed, official-looking collection cup to the governor. "We could all turn around that's fine,'' he said.
At one point Mandvi persuaded other reporter to pass the cup to the front row but Scott ignored it and asked again. "I hate to keep harping on this, would you pee in a cup?" Scott shot back: "You don't get to run this."
Aasif Mandvi has local roots, he moved to Tampa at age 16 and studied at the University of South Florida.
Remember when Gov. Rick Scott unveiled those severe budget cuts last February? To justify those deep cuts, he said this:
"As long as 1.1 million Floridians are out of work, we can't afford a government that runs wild with taxes, regulations and excessive spending."
Then he proceeded to spend superfluous amounts of the state's money; the taxpayers money, on things that had nothing to do with the budget, but did have a common theme. It seems that no amount of money is too excessive when it comes to infringing on the rights of Floridians.
Scott is suing on your behalf, and on your dime, to block the Affordable Care Act.
He's suing on your behalf, and your dime, to block your voting rights.
Another way Scott chose to spend taxpayer money "wisely" was on mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients, apparently on the false premise that all the poor in need of public assistance are also drug addicts. Because they are presumed guilty until proven otherwise, those being tested must first spring for the cost of the test, and on the "rare" occasion that the test results are positive, the testee is not reimbursed by the taxpayer.
Luckily for those of us who prefer checks and balances, Scott is not quite the "Supreme Executive" that he purports to be, and the courts step in when needed, which is pretty often since Scott bought his way into power last January, and this case is no exception. Here the ACLU and the Florida Justice Institute stepped in, and the court ruled against Scott in favor of Luis Lebron, a Navy veteran who refused to take the mandatory drug test when he applied for temporary assistance to support his 4 year old son. Lebron qualified for benefits but refused to waive hes Fourth Amendment rights because he felt the law was wrong and unfair, and said "I defended the Constitution. Now I am asking the Constitution to defend me.” The judge agreed with Lebron and issued an injunction blocking the tests.
....Federal court Judge Mary Scriven put a halt to the tea party Republican's marquee plan, concluding that "the wholesale, suspicionless drug testing of all applicants" for Florida's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) constituted an unreasonable search in violation of the 4th Amendment.
"Though the State speaks in generalities about the 'public health risk, as well as the crime risk, associated with drugs' being 'beyond dispute,'it provides no concrete evidence that those risks are any more present in TANF applicants than in the greater population," Scriven wrote in her ruling against Florida's government. "It is not enough to simply recite a governmental interest without any evidence of a concrete threat that would be mitigated through drug testing."
Apparently Judge Mary Scriven was unaware of Rick Scott's own job description:
Governor: "Simply reciting a Governor's interest without any evidence."