SHERMAN, Texas – Bibi Tasleyma Sattar, D.O., and her practice, Oakmont Wellness Center, PA, (collectively, “Dr. Sattar”) have agreed to pay $210,000 to resolve False Claims Act allegations involving accepting payments for patient referrals in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute, as well as claims otherwise improperly billed to federal healthcare programs for laboratory testing, announced Eastern District of Texas U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Cox today.
The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits offering, paying, soliciting, or receiving remuneration to induce referrals of items or services covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and other federally funded programs. The Anti-Kickback Statute intended to ensure that medical providers’ judgments are not compromised by improper financial incentives and are instead based on the best interests of their patients.
The settlement announced today resolves allegations that Dr. Sattar conspired with others to receive remuneration disguised as “process and handling fees” in exchange for referring laboratory tests to True Health Diagnostics, LLC (“True Health”) from June 2015 to November 2017. Specifically, Dr. Sattar referred her Medicare patients to Onsite Draw Station, Inc. (“ODS”), a company owned and/or operated by Dr. Sattar’s parents, Sultan Sattar and Bibi Zabeda Sattar, to perform blood draws when Dr. Sattar ordered True Health tests for her patients. When Dr. Sattar ordered diagnostic testing from True Health, and ODS performed the blood draws, True Health paid a $25 “process and handling fee” per each patient that Dr. Sattar referred to True Health. True Health then submitted the claims to the Medicare program for payment. Dr. Sattar’s decision to order these laboratory tests was based in part on True Health’s payment of “process and handling fees” to ODS, in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute.
The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.
In connection with this scheme, Sultan Sattar, 64, and Bibi Zabeda Sattar, 61, of Fort Worth, Texas, and Jeffrey Paul Cornwell, a/k/a “Boomer,” 43, of McKinney, Texas, were indicted by a federal grand jury on December 11, 2019. If convicted, the Sattars and Cornwell each face up to 5 years in federal prison.
“A pillar of our medical system is trust between a patient and a physician,” said U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Cox. “The Eastern District of Texas is committed to protecting that trust and ensuring that those whose medical judgment is corrupted by illegal financial agreements are held accountable.”
The civil settlement was the result of an investigation by the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, OIG-HHS, DCIS, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas. The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Gillingham and Adrian Garcia.
The government’s pursuit of these matters illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating healthcare fraud. One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act. Tips and complaints from all sources about potential fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement can be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services, at 1-800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).