The jury yesterday found that Cameron-Ehlen Group, which does business as Bloomington, Minnesota–based Precision Lens, and its owner Paul Ehlen violated the False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statute.
Federal prosecutors claimed the distributor’s activities resulted in 64,575 false claims to the Medicare program between 2006 and 2015. They said Ehlen and the company took doctors on high-end skiing, fishing, golfing, hunting, sporting, and entertainment vacations. Many times, they flew the doctors to exclusive destinations on private jets.
In addition, prosecutors said that physician customers received airline frequent flier miles at a significant discount.
“The jury’s verdict protects the integrity of the Medicare system for patients and those healthcare providers who operate fairly and legally. Companies may not use expensive trips and other items of value to persuade physicians to use their products, and physicians may not accept that remuneration,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Chad Blumenfield said in a news release posted yesterday.
In a statement provided by their attorneys to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Ehlen and Precision Lens said they were appealing and that their actions were wholly appropriate. The Star Tribune noted that the $48 million in damages could potentially get tripled because it was a False Claims Act case.