Federal Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs) Targeting Ohio Physicians and Pharmacists
The federal government is using civil investigative demands (CIDs) to gather information in support of opioid fraud and diversion charges in Ohio. Physicians, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers that receive CIDs must be careful to avoid mistakes, and they should engage federal defense counsel promptly.
Physicians, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers in Ohio have recently been receiving civil investigative demands (CIDs) from the federal government. A CID is a tool that federal law enforcement agencies (such as the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)) use to gather information from healthcare providers who are suspected of diverting opioid medications, submitting fraudulent billings for opioids, and engaging in other unlawful practices. Receiving a CID is a serious matter, and responding appropriately requires a serious defense.
At Oberheiden, P.C., our federal healthcare fraud defense lawyers have centuries of combined experience handling matters involving civil investigative demands. This includes defending clients who have received CIDs and conducting civil healthcare fraud investigations on behalf of the DOJ. With a defense team that includes several former high-level federal prosecutors, we understand the federal investigative process from the inside out. We use our insights to our clients’ advantage, and we work diligently to protect our clients as fully, efficiently, and discreetly as possible.
What is a Civil Investigative Demand (CID)? How are CIDs Used in Federal Opioid Fraud and Diversion Investigations?
Civil investigative demands are unique from other types of federal investigative tools. As such, they present unique opportunities for federal authorities to gather information, and they present unique challenges for physicians, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers who are being accused of opioid-related offenses in Ohio.
- Civil – The DOJ and other agencies use CIDs to gather evidence in support of civil investigations. Certain federal statutes, such as the Stark Law, are exclusively civil in nature, while other statutes, such as the False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statute, include provisions for both civil and criminal enforcement. Critically, however, the fact that an investigation starts out civil does not mean that it will end civil. If federal agents uncover evidence of criminal opioid fraud or diversion through the issuance of a CID, then DOJ prosecutors can pursue criminal charges.
- Investigative – CIDs are investigative tools. Federal authorities use them to gather information in order to decide whether to pursue charges for opioid fraud, opioid diversion, and other health-care-related offenses. Facing an investigation does not necessarily mean that you will face charges (and we have successfully resolved numerous federal investigations without charges being filed); however, avoiding charges requires a targeted, strategic, and effective defense.
- Demand – When federal authorities issue a CID, they are demanding the production of documents that they believe will aid in their investigation. A CID is a form of administrative subpoena; and, as such, is legally enforceable. The grounds for challenging CIDs are limited, and failing to comply with a demand can lead to contempt charges regardless of whether or not the investigation was targeting substantiated allegations.
Due to their legal enforceability and the breadth of documents they can be used to request, CIDs are extremely potent tools for federal investigators. With the federal government’s focus on combatting the nation’s opioid epidemic, investigators are routinely using CIDs to solicit potentially-damaging information from pharmacists, pain doctors, and other physicians who prescribe and dispense opioid medications.
What Should Ohio Physicians and Pharmacists Do After Receiving a CID?
If you, or if any other member of your Ohio medical or pharmaceutical practice, has been served with a civil investigative demand (CID), what do you need to do? While the most-appropriate course of action will be dictated by the specific circumstances at hand, a comprehensive defense strategy will generally consist of:
1. Review the CID with Defense Counsel
Physicians, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers should review their CIDs with the assistance of federal defense counsel to determine (i) what documents are subject to the CID, and (ii) what deadlines need to be met. A CID may impose multiple deadlines, including a deadline to “meet and confer” with federal agents and a deadline to produce responsive documents. There are time restrictions for challenging the scope of CIDs as well, and failing to timely file a challenge will result in loss of the ability to do so.
2. Meet with Federal Agents and/or Challenge the CID in Court
Civil investigative demands can request an extraordinary volume of documents. The DOJ has broad authority to compel the production of prescription, billing, and other records through the issuance of CIDs, and in many cases the compliance burden can be insurmountable. Oftentimes, it will be possible to negotiate the scope of a CID with federal agents; and, sometimes, it will be necessary to challenge the breadth of a CID in court. In either case, deciding how to move forward requires the advice of experienced federal defense counsel.
3. Prepare to Produce Responsive Documents
Upon assessing the scope of the CID with legal counsel, providers must promptly begin the process of compiling documents for production to the federal government. Due to the time and effort this entails, it should be undertaken in parallel with any attempts to challenge the CID. While CID recipients must generally comply with all legally-enforceable demands, there are certain grounds (i.e. the attorney-client privilege) that can be asserted to withhold responsive documents.
4. Review Responsive Documents Prior to Submission
Due to the availability of grounds to withhold documents that are responsive to a CID (and due to the risks of unnecessarily disclosing information to the federal government), all documents compiled in response to a CID must be reviewed prior to being produced to the DOJ. There are numerous legal issues that need to be considered; and, as a result, this is a task that should be managed by legal counsel.
5. Evaluate Potential Next Steps
While responding to a CID is a significant endeavor, producing responsive documents to the federal government is far from the last step in the investigative process. Federal agents may ask for more documents, they may request interviews with you and your practice’s other personnel, and they may seek to gather evidence against you through a variety of other means. In order to determine what you need to do next, you will need to work closely with your federal defense counsel. Among other factors, the existence of any potential evidence of intentional or unintentional opioid fraud or diversion will be a major factor in determining what type of defense strategy it makes the most sense to pursue.
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Why Do Ohio Physicians and Pharmacists Choose Oberheiden, P.C. for CID Defense?
Physicians, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers in Ohio who are being forced to respond to civil investigative demands have a lot at stake. Not only is there a risk of facing civil or criminal charges for opioid fraud, prescription drug diversion, federal program billing fraud, and various other health-care-related offenses, but a deficient response to the CID could lead to federal contempt charges as well. In short, responding to a CID is a serious matter, and it needs to be handled accordingly.
All aspects of responding to a CID and fending off a federal opioid investigation require experienced legal representation. Here are five reasons why Ohio physicians, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers choose Oberheiden, P.C. for CID defense:
- We are a federal healthcare fraud defense law firm. Unlike other firms, we focus our practice on federal healthcare fraud defense. We routinely represent physicians and pharmacists who are facing scrutiny from the DOJ, and we rely on our attorneys’ centuries of relevant experience to build and execute effective defense strategies.
- We have extensive experience handling opioid and other health-care-related CIDs. We have particular experience representing healthcare providers in civil investigations involving CIDs. This includes favorably resolving investigations targeting allegations of prescription drug fraud, opioid diversion, Medicare fraud, Anti-Kickback Statute violations, and other similar types of offenses.
- We tick all of the boxes for savvy federal defense. Several of our attorneys are former healthcare fraud prosecutors with the DOJ. We represent healthcare providers nationwide, and we have successfully resolved thousands of high-stakes investigations. In other words, we have the knowledge and insights you need to protect yourself and your practice.
- We are meticulous, detail-oriented, and efficient. When we review your CID and assess your compliance burden, we will use our experience in past matters to determine exactly what you need to disclose. We will carefully evaluate all potential grounds for challenging the CID and withholding responsive documents, and we will do all of this as efficiently and with as little disruption to your practice as possible.
- We make ourselves available to our clients 24/7. As a client of Oberheiden, P.C., you have access to our federal healthcare fraud defense lawyers around the clock. We will be available when you need us, and we will make sure you meet your deadline to respond to your CID.
Contact Us Now for a Free and Confidential Case Assessment
For more information about responding to the federal government’s civil investigative demand (CID), please contact us for a free and confidential case assessment. To speak with one of our attorneys about your federal opioid or healthcare fraud investigation in Ohio as soon as possible, call 888-680-1745 or inquire online now.