UnitedHealth sued by U.S. government over Medicare charges

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By Laharee Chatterjee and Akankshita Mukhopadhyay

<span class="articleLocation”>The U.S. Justice Department has joined a
whistleblower lawsuit against UnitedHealth Group Inc
that claims the country’s largest health insurer and its units
and affiliates overcharged Medicare hundreds of millions of
dollars, a law firm representing the whistleblower said on
Thursday.

“We reject these more than five-year-old claims and will
contest them vigorously,” UnitedHealth spokesman Matthew Burns
said in a statement.

The lawsuit, filed in 2011 and unsealed on Thursday, alleges
UnitedHealth Group overcharged Medicare by claiming the federal
health insurance program’s members nationwide were sicker than
they were, according to the law firm Constantine Cannon LLP.

The Justice Department has also joined in allegations
against WellMed Medical Management Inc, a Texas-based healthcare
company UnitedHealth bought in 2011.

The lawsuit by whistleblower Benjamin Phoeling, a former
UnitedHealth executive, has been kept under seal in federal
court in Los Angeles while the Justice Department investigated
the claims for the past five years. Constantine Cannon posted
the lawsuit online when it was unsealed on Thursday. (bit.ly/2lQTOh8)

No total damages were specified in the lawsuit.



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