DaVita whistleblower David Barbetta alleged in a qui tam case that DaVita paid doctors hidden kickbacks as a way to get patient referrals for its dialysis clinics and to reduce or eliminate competition from other dialysis centers.
DaVita paid a total of $400 million to the federal government ($389 million) and various states ($11.5 million) in 2014 to settle the qui tam case, which was brought on Mr. Barbetta’s behalf by Phillips & Cohen LLP. DaVita’s settlement was apparently the largest one that covered solely allegations of kickbacks in the healthcare industry. Below are excerpts from a Denver Post story about Mr. Barbetta’s efforts.
Former DaVita insider helped build case that led to $389M settlement
A key witness in an anti-kickback investigation that ended with DaVita HealthCare Partners paying $389 million gave federal prosecutors sales spreadsheets, e-mails and insight into Colorado’s third largest private company.
David Barbetta said he pushed against DaVita’s practice of rewarding doctors with lucrative joint ventures in exchange for patient referrals. He worked as a senior financial analyst in the company’s mergers and acquisitions division from 2007 to 2009.
But his complaints and warnings earned him scorn at the highest levels of the company, he said.
One vice president warned Barbetta not to “give me any of that ethics crap,” court documents state.
Barbetta said that after he left the company, he considered filing a complaint anonymously but feared it would be ignored. After researching his options, he decided to go to lawyers to file his false claims whistleblower lawsuit.
“No one else was standing up and saying this wasn’t right and it should stop,” Barbetta said. “Everyone seemed to know about it, and no one seemed to be doing willing to do anything about it.”