Laboratory Corporation of America will also acquire Diamond Reference Laboratory
Last week, financially-troubled Westcliff Medical Laboratories, Inc., of Santa Ana, California, filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy action in federal court. The news was disclosed to Westcliff clients in a letter signed by Westcliff’s Chairman and CEO. Even as this news became public, Westcliff announced that its assets would be acquired by Laboratory Corporation of America (NYSE: LH), subject to approval by the bankruptcy court.
In a separate transaction, LabCorp is acquiring Diamond Reference Laboratory of Diamond Bar, California. Diamond Reference Laboratory has estimated annual revenue of $10 million. Westcliff Medical Laboratories reported annual revenue of $97 million for 2009. When these two clinical laboratory acquisitions close, LabCorp will have picked up a 5% increase in its share of California’s estimated $2 billion laboratory testing market.
Management Tool Contributes to More Collected Revenue, Higher Sales Prices
Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) is hitting the radar screen at the nation’s best-managed clinical laboratories. That’s because shrinking reimbursement makes it imperative for clinical labs and pathology groups to collect every dollar legally due for the lab testing services they provide. RCM is a proven management tool for reducing unpaid claims and unlocking more productivity in the coding/billing/collections process.
“Revenue Cycle Management for laboratories encompasses all the administrative and management functions that contribute to the capture, and collection of revenue associated with lab testing services,” observed Lale White, CEO of Xifin, Inc. of San Diego, California. White has been an acknowledged national expert in laboratory coding, billing, and collections for more than two decades.
Allegations of false claims implicate discounted client billing practices
It’s the first major whistleblower lawsuit in the laboratory industry in recent years. On March 20, California State Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced that his state had joined a qui tam lawsuit that alleges a number of laboratories have filed false claims on a “massive” scale, thus defrauding the California Medi-Cal program of “hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The unusual twist in this whistleblower lawsuit is that it was originally filed by the owner of a California-based laboratory. In 2005, Chris Reidel, owner and CEO of Hunter Laboratories, in Campbell, California, initiated the legal action, alleging what AG Brown characterized as “massive Medi-Cal fraud and kickbacks. Medi-Cal is the state’s Medicaid health program for the poor.
The original lawsuit filed by Reidel seeks to recover at least $100 million. However, one of his attorneys, Joe Cotchett, of the San Francisco-based law firm of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, believes the state’s actual losses could be more than $1 billion. The lawsuit is pending in San Mateo Superior Court and was filed under seal in 2005.