A medical billing company in Lakewood has agreed to pay $565,000 to settle federal fraud claims.
The allegations were first raised in a 2006 lawsuit by Bruce Brandler, a former employee at MSO Washington Inc., who sued on behalf of the government. Brandler is entitled to 25 percent of what the government collects – or $141,000.
MSO ran a program called The Home Doctor, in which doctors and other medical professionals visited residents of group homes, assisted living and other facilities throughout Pierce and King counties.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle says that since 2002 the company has been billing Medicare and Medicaid for unnecessary services, services that lacked proper documentation and services that were never performed.
The company and its owner, Charles Plunkett, did not admit liability as part of a settlement agreement filed in U.S. District Court. The company did agree to be monitored over the next five years by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services.
A news release sent by MSO and Plunkett described Brandler as a disgruntled employee who was the company’s compliance officer until he was dismissed in 2005, supposedly on good terms.
Plunkett’s statement said Brandler’s complaint was filed in retaliation for his dismissal.
The original complaint filed by Brandler on behalf of the government states that he repeatedly told MSO leaders about the need for correct documentation and billing to Medicare and Medicaid services. The company failed to meet those standards, the complaint states.
Brandler is entitled to a portion of the settlement under the federal False Claims Act, which allows private parties to file suit on the government’s behalf in cases of alleged fraud.
Staff writer Sean Robinson contributed to this report.