Rite Aid Corporation (“Rite Aid”) paid the United States government nearly $3 million to settle claims alleging it violated the False Claims Act between 2008 and 2010 for knowingly and improperly exerting undue influence on the decisions of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. According to the case filed by a Florida pharmacist under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, Rite Aid allegedly offered Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries gift cards in exchange for the transfer of their prescriptions to Rite Aid.
Federal law prohibits pharmacies from improperly influencing the decision-making of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries when they are choosing where to fill their prescriptions. The Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a partnership created in 2009 between the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice, helped achieve this settlement and continues to focus its efforts on reducing and preventing Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud. Since 2009, the federal government has recovered more than $23.2 billion through enforcement of the False Claims Act.
This settlement illustrates the government’s continued fight against health care fraud and its efforts in preventing pharmacies from illegally manipulating individual health care choices.