No Coverage for Anti-Kickback Settlement

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4 days ago
14

D & O Policy Professional Services Exclusion

Post 4830

In Practice Fusion, Inc. v. Freedom Specialty Insurance Company et al., A167130, A167886, California Court of Appeals, First District, Second Division (June 21, 2024)

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

An electronic health record is an electronic version of a patient's medical history as maintained by a healthcare provider.

The California Court of Appeals was asked to resolve a dispute over the applicability of  professional services coverage exclusions in directors and officers liability insurance policies. The policies were issued to Practice Fusion, Inc., a company that develops and licenses electronic health record software for use by healthcare providers.

Following investigations by the United States Department of Justice, Practice Fusion entered into a civil settlement with the United States that resolved two distinct sets of claims that alleged that Practice Fusion violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. Further, although the alerts appeared to healthcare providers as unbiased medical information, in some instances they were designed to encourage healthcare providers to prescribe a specific product or class of products to the benefit of the sponsoring pharmaceutical company.

Practice Fusion sought insurance coverage for the civil settlement under its directors and officers liability insurance policies. The insurers denied coverage on the ground that the policies' professional services exclusions applied to the losses. Practice Fusion then sued the insurers for breach of contract.

The trial court granted the insurers' motion for summary adjudication because the claims arose from Practice Fusion providing professional services to the pharmaceutical companies and its claim was barred by the professional services exclusion in the policies.

The Settlement Between the United States Department of Justice and Practice Fusion

In January 2020, Practice Fusion agreed to pay $118,642,000 plus interest to the United States and participating states to resolve claims arising from investigations relating to Practice Fusion's electronic health record software.

Practice Fusion's Insurance Coverage

Several insurers relevant to the CDS claims insured Practice Fusion under primary or excess directors and officers (D&O) liability insurance policies. The policies in an "insurance tower" provided a total of $50 million in coverage. All policies contained an exclusion that applies to all "Insureds" and bars coverage for "Loss in connection with any Claim made against any Insured . . . alleging, arising out of, based upon or attributable to an Insured's performance of or failure to perform professional services for others, or any act(s), error(s) or omission(s) relating thereto; ...."

DISCUSSION

At issue in this case are exclusions that apply to losses connected to claims arising from "professional services for others."  The loss claimed by Practice Fusion as a result of its settlement with the United States as to the CDS alerts falls within the provisions in Practice Fusion's D&O policies exclude coverage for claims arising out of, based upon or attributable to an Insured's performance of professional services for others, or any act(s), error(s) or omission(s) relating thereto.

Practice Fusion conceded it agreed to modify its software to include the CDS alerts, which were targeted for particular patients with particular conditions based on selected guidelines. The contracts between Practice Fusion and the pharmaceutical companies are premised upon Practice Fusion providing the companies with professional services. The Court of Appeals concluded that the CDS claims, which Practice Fusion settled, are claims that meet the terms of the exclusion.

Accordingly, the loss connected to the settlement of the DOJ's claims regarding the CDS alerts was barred by the professional services exclusion.  The contracts included as a major objective for Practice Fusion to provide the companies with services by deploying CDS alerts in its software and by "arranging for or recommending" that healthcare providers prescribe their products.

ZALMA OPINION

Health insurance fraud is rampant. If you read Zalma's Insurance Fraud Letter you will see dozens of convictions for fraud on government funded health care programs and multiple civil settlements like that reached with Practice Fusion. It would be ridiculous to allow a person or entity to insure for its fraudulent conduct and payment to avoid criminal prosecution. To do so would avoid the purpose of the kickback statutes and the crime that Practice Fusion  avoided by agreeing to pay the Government and eliminate the fact that D&O insurance was designed to protect against fortuitous losses not intentional criminal conduct.

(c) 2024 Barry Zalma & ClaimSchool, Inc.

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