Baltimore-based law firm Saiontz & Kirk P.A. paid more than $90,000 to the federal government to settle allegations that it failed to reimburse Medicare for conditional payments made on behalf of clients.
The settlement, announced Monday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore, resolves the federal claims without an admission of wrongdoing, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Medicare made conditional payments to health care providers to settle bills of firm clients with the requirement that the individuals repay Medicare in the event they receive a settlement or judgment, according to the release. Prosecutors allege that over several years, Saiontz & Kirk either alone or with co-counsel negotiated for and received settlements in six cases where neither the firm nor its clients repaid Medicare for conditional payments.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office identified $164,844 in debts in a June letter to the firm, according to the settlement agreement; the firm made a payment in one case and co-counsel made a payment in a second case.
The $91,406 payment agreed to in the settlement released Saiontz & Kirk from further liability. The agreement was signed in late October.
“Plaintiffs’ attorneys cannot refer a case to or enter into a joint representation agreement with co-counsel and simply wash their hands clean of their obligations to reimburse Medicare for its conditional payments,” U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur said in a statement. “We intend to hold attorneys accountable for failing to make good on their obligations to repay Medicare for its conditional payments, regardless of whether they were the ones primarily handling the litigation for the plaintiff.”
In a statement, Eric Saiontz, partner at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A., said: “Saiontz & Kirk has procedures in place to make sure Medicare is protected when resolving injury claims for our clients, and we take the government’s interests seriously in every case. A good portion of the funds claimed by the U.S. Attorney’s office were distributed in our normal lien resolution process, and were paid from funds that were held in escrow following recent case settlements. For other claims asserted by the government, we continue to maintain that the payments made by Medicare were not related to injuries involved in cases handled by our office or by our co-counsel. However, our law firm decided to resolve the claims prior to any formal complaint or discovery process, to avoid involving former clients in these disputes.”