By Margaret Jackson / NewsBreak Denver
Colorado will receive more than $1 million after an optical lens company paid providers kickbacks to refer patients to the company, resulting in false claims made to the Colorado Medicaid program.
In the settlement, Essilor, a company that manufactures, markets and distributes optical lenses and equipment used to produce optical lenses, agreed to pay 35 states a total of $22 million plus interest.
“Kickbacks like those Essilor offered can harm consumers by leaving them with products that are not in their best interest,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said. “In this case, the kickbacks affected some of the most vulnerable Coloradans.”
The settlement resolves allegations that between Jan. 1, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2016, Essilor knowingly and willfully offered to pay or paid eye care providers to purchase Essilor products for their patients, including Medicaid beneficiaries. Essilor’s conduct violated the federal and state False Claims Statute and resulted in the submission of false claims to the Colorado Medicaid program.
The settlement arises from two whistleblower lawsuits filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas and Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
A team from the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Unites participated in the settlement negotiations on behalf of the states. The team included representatives from the offices of the attorneys general for California, Colorado, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Texas.