Health Diagnostics Laboratory (HDL) of Richmond, Va., has agreed to pay $47 million to resolve allegations it violated the False Claims Act by compensating physicians for ordering tests, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.

Laboratory Singulex of Alameda, Calif., has also agreed to pay $1.5 million to resolve similar allegations.

As alleged in the lawsuits, physicians were induced to refer patients to HDL, Singulex and a third laboratory for blood tests by paying them processing and handling fees of between $10 and $17 per referral and routinely waiving patient co-pays and deductibles.

Physicians allegedly referred patients to these labs for medically unnecessary tests, which were then billed to federal healthcare programs.

The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits offering, paying, soliciting or receiving remuneration to induce referrals of items or services covered by federally funded programs. The law is intended to ensure a physician’s medical judgment is based on the best interests of patients and not compromised by improper incentives.

HDL and several other labs have been under investigation by the Office of Inspector General and DOJ for many months, as we previously reported.

We have discussed regulatory issues with investing in clinical laboratories in the past, and will continue to cover this topic in future blog posts and a Law360 column.