The acting U.S. Attorney for Vermont announced a $155 million settlement Wednesday with an electronic medical records company over false claims to the federal government.
Massachusetts-based eClinicalWorks is one of the largest companies in the United States that develops and sells electronic health records software.
The settlement is the largest in the history of the Vermont District of the federal court system.
Acting U.S. Attorney Eugenia Cowles said at a Wednesday news conference that the company misrepresented the capabilities of its software in order to get a key federal certification. That certification qualifies health professionals using the software for federal incentives.
The certification is related to a program built into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, according to a release from Cowles’ office. The program was designed to get more doctors using electronic medical records, and does so by offering payments to doctors who use qualifying software. Cowles said eClinicalWorks misrepresented its software in order to get that software qualified for the program.
The release says the company “falsely obtained that certification for its EHR [electronic health records] software when it concealed from its certifying entity that its software did not comply with the requirements for certification.”
In addition, Cowles said the company illegally offered kickbacks to health care providers in exchange for promoting its software. Cowles did not say if Vermont doctors were involved in the kickback scheme. She said some health care offices in Vermont use eClinicalWorks software, but said she didn't know exactly how many. VTDigger's Morgan True reported on Twitter Wednesday afternoon that the Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin uses eClinicalWorks software.
— Morgan True (@true_morgan) May 31, 2017
One term of the settlement is a five-year “Corporate Integrity Agreement” which requires eClinicalWorks to hire an independent organization to monitor the company’s business activities and prevent similar problems from re-emerging in the future.
Cowles said the investigation began after a software technician who used to work for the New York City Division of Health Care Access and Improvement approached federal authorities in Vermont with allegations of the company’s misrepresentations. Aside from the fact that some providers in Vermont use eClinicalWorks software (providers in other states use the software also), Cowles didn’t say why the technician chose to pursue the issue in Vermont.