Individual Line Items on Patient Bills Reimbursed Under DRG System May Not Satisfy Materiality Requirement

By: Joel Androphy, Rachel Grier, and Stephanie Gutheinz 

In order to be successful, a relator must establish that a fraudulent statement or record was material to the government’s decision to pay a false claim.  For claims reimbursed under a diagnosis related group (“DRG”) code system, only identifying line items on a patient’s bill may fall short of this materiality requirement.  Reimbursement under the DRG system provides a fixed payment based on the patient’s DRG, which is calculated based on the patient’s diagnosis and age.  In most circumstances, the DRG rate satisfies full payment for all services provided, including prescription drugs.  Thus, under the DRG system, individual prescriptions are immaterial to the amount the government pays for the treatment of a given patient because payment is based solely on the DRG rather than any individual charges on the patient’s bill.  As such, those line item charges cannot serve as the basis for FCA liability under these circumstances.  The case is United States ex rel. Kennedy v. Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a court in the Northern District of Illinois.

Posted in False Claims, Healthcare Fraud, MaterialityNo Comments


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