Medical research company agrees to pay $1.1 million to settle allegation it received kickbacks from northwest medical testing company

Seattle – Heart Center Research, LLC, a Huntsville, Alabama, medical research company, entered into a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve allegations that its member physicians referred patients for genetic testing in exchange for kickbacks from a Seattle-area testing company, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman.  Heart Center Research has agreed to pay a total of $1.1 million to resolve the allegations.

According to the settlement agreement, between 2012 and 2013, the company was alleged to have accepted payments from now-defunct testing company Natural Molecular Testing Corporation (NMTC) in return for the company’s member physicians ordering genetic tests from NMTC, which NMTC then billed to Medicare.  The scheme was alleged to be in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and the civil False Claims Act.

The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.

In August 2019, three doctors and one medical practice entered into settlements with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve allegations that they referred patients for genetic testing in exchange for kickbacks from NMTC.  Those settlements totaled $1.1 million.

NMTC declared bankruptcy in 2013.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has an unsecured claim against NMTC for $70 million but has little chance of recovering those funds as there are few remaining assets.

The matter was investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).  The settlement was negotiated by Assistant United States Attorney Ashley Burns.

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