Sunday, August 2, 2020

Kamala Harris's Lab Industry Background: $241M DOJ Settlement in 2011

Famously, Barack Obama proposed a precision medicine bill when he was a senator, and during his vice presidency, Joe Biden's portfolio included cancer research and precision medicine (Cancer Moonshot - here).

Potential VP candidate Kamala Harris has some background with the lab industry as well - she was A.G. of California in 2011, then announcing a $241M lab industry settlement (against Quest).   Original press release here.   A book on the topic was released in 2020 - Blood Money by Chris Reidel (here; see below).

Thursday, May 19, 2011
SACRAMENTO --- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced a $241 million settlement - the largest recovery in the history of California's False Claims Act - with Quest Diagnostics, the state's biggest provider of medical laboratory testing, of a lawsuit alleging illegal overcharges to the state's medical program for the poor.

"In a time of shrinking budgets, this historic settlement affirms that Medi-Cal exists to help the state's neediest families rather than to illicitly line private pockets,' said Attorney General Harris. 'Medi-Cal providers and others who try to cheat the state through false claims and illegal kickbacks should know that my office is watching and will prosecute.'

The settlement with Quest is the result of a lawsuit filed under court seal in 2005 by a whistleblower and referred to the Attorney General's office. The lawsuit alleged that Quest systematically overcharged the state's Medi-Cal program for more than 15 years and gave illegal kickbacks in the form of discounted or free testing to doctors, hospitals and clinics that referred Medi-Cal patients and other business to the labs.

California law states that 'no provider shall charge [Medi-Cal] for any service more than would have been charged for the same service to other purchasers of comparable services under comparable circumstance.' Yet, Quest charged Medi-Cal up to six times as much as it charged some other customers for the same tests. For example, Quest charged Medi-Cal $8.59 to perform a complete blood count test, while it charged some of its other customers $1.43.

Chris Reidel's Book "BLOOD MONEY"

Dark Report continues to cover fallout and ongoing case law from the HDL Laboratories allegations and bankruptcy, and recently cited Chris Riedel's book Blood Money (Amazon), which discusses the author's major qui tam cases at length and in detail.   About half the book is devoted to the California MediCal case (above), and much of the rest to the HDL case.   The author definitely writes from his own perspective (he is perpetually squirming in court wishing the prosecuting attorneys would ask what he thinks are the knockout-punch questions, and he is perpetually seething at the behavior of defense attorneys throughout all the cases in the book.)   That said, the book relates an insider's view into some of the machinations behind the scenes in large qui tam cases.   

Blood Money is available in hard cover, paperback, eBook, and even an audiobook.  See the publisher's home page for the book with a short video.  Video here, here.