PHILADELPHIA, PA — United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero this week announced a $16.4 million civil settlement with Essilor International, Essilor of America, Inc., Essilor Laboratories of America, Inc., and Essilor Instruments USA (collectively, “Essilor”), headquartered in Dallas, Texas, to resolve allegations that the company violated the False Claims Act by causing claims to be submitted to Medicare and Medicaid that resulted from violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute.
Essilor manufactures, markets, and distributes optical lenses and equipment used to produce optical lenses. The Anti‑Kickback Statute prohibits offering or paying anything of value to induce the referral of items or services covered by Medicare, Medicaid and other federally funded programs. The statute is intended to ensure that medical providers’ judgments are not compromised by improper financial incentives.
The United States alleges that between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2016, Essilor knowingly and willfully offered or paid remuneration to eye care providers, such as optometrists and ophthalmologists, to induce those providers to order and purchase Essilor products for their patients, including Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute. Specifically, the United States contends that Essilor, through its Strategic Alliance, Practice Builder Loyalty, Practice Builder Elite, and Growth Financing programs (collectively, “Threshold Programs”) knowingly and willfully offered or paid unlawful remuneration to providers to induce providers to order and purchase Essilor products and knowingly caused providers to submit false claims to Medicare and Medicaid for Essilor products that were tainted by kickbacks that Essilor offered or paid to providers enrolled in Threshold Programs.