Fla. company hit with $15.3 million penalty over sleep disorder studies
By LARRY HANNAN | The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville | Published: January 4, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Jacksonville-based company has agreed to pay $15.3 million to the federal government to settle allegations it used unlicensed sleep technicians for its sleep diagnostic services.
The U.S. Department of Justice accused American Sleep Medicine LLC of inappropriately billing government health care programs for studies it conducted on sleeping disorders.
Under federal rules, sleep studies must be done by licensed technicians. The Justice Department said claims submitted by American Sleep were conducted by technicians who did not have the proper credentials and that the company knew the technicians were unlicensed.
Government health care companies that were involved include Medicare, the Railroad Retirement Medicare Program and Tricare, the military health care program.
“Medicare patients and military families deserve to be treated by appropriately credentialed professionals when seeking military care,” said Stuart F. Delery, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil division. “When companies providing those services seek to skirt the rules, there will be a steep price to pay.”
American Sleep is one of the nation’s largest sleep disorder treatment organizations with 19 sleep testing facilities in the United States.
As part of the settlement, the company has entered into a five-year corporate integrity agreement that allows the government to monitor American Sleep with independent reviews.
An employee who answered the phone Thursday afternoon at American Sleep said all supervisors had left for the day and no one could comment on the settlement.
The fraud was first reported by Daniel Purnell, a former technician at American Sleep. He filed suit against the company in Kentucky, saying it submitted false claims from 2004 to 2011.
Purnell will collect about $2.6 million of the settlement.