- Associated Press - Friday, January 29, 2021

BOSTON (AP) - A Massachusetts-based electronic health records company has agreed to pay more than $18 million to resolve allegations that it paid illegal kickbacks to generate sales of its products, federal prosecutors said.

Athenahealth Inc., based in Watertown, violated the federal False Claims Act and the anti-kickback statute through three marketing programs, according to a statement Thursday from the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston.

In one, the company provided all-expense paid trips for clients to sporting and entertainment events, including the Masters golf tournament and the Kentucky Derby, prosecutors said.

The company also paid existing clients for leads to land new clients, and made payments to rival companies that discontinued health information technology products to refer clients to Athenahealth, prosecutors alleged.

Through these programs, Athenahealth generated sales for itself while causing health care providers to submit false claims to the federal government, prosecutors said.

“Across the country, physicians rely on electronic health records software to provide vital patient data. Kickbacks corrupt the market for health care services and risk jeopardizing patient safety,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a statement.

The company in a statement said it “places the highest priority on compliance with all laws and regulations governing our industry.”

“While we have full confidence in our robust compliance policies and programs, we agreed to this settlement - under which we admit no wrongdoing - to put this matter behind us and move forward with our critical work on behalf of patients and health care providers.”

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