Free Patient Parking May Trigger False Claims Act Violation

Who knew?  When you park for free at your doctor’s office, you may be a pawn in a scheme to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Stark Law, and the False Claims Act.  It’s enough to make you sick.

That’s one of the lessons of an August 14 federal court decision in Florida.  Whistleblower Thomas Bingham filed a qui tam suit against BayCare Health System based on a parking garage it built for a medical office building on the campus of its St. Anthony Hospital.  The doctors in the office building and their patients get free parking.  Tom says that’s a big financial benefit for the doctors.  He should know because when he’s not whistleblowing, he works as a professional real estate appraiser.

Tom says BayCare built the garage and gave the doctors the free-parking deal in order to encourage them to refer patients, including Medicare patients, to St. Anthony.  As Tom sees it,  that motive means the arrangement violates the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Stark Law, and the False Claims Act.

On August 14 the court ruled that Tom has a point—at least enough to withstand BayCare’s motion to dismiss.

The case is U.S. ex rel. v. BayCare Health System, 2015 BL 262353, 8-cv-00073-SDM-JSS (M.D. Fla.)

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