ORLANDO, Fla.--Rotech Healthcare has paid $2 million to settle
civil charges resulting from a whistleblower complaint that it
engaged in fraudulent Medicare billing for durable medical

The settlement resolves claims filed in 2004 by former Rotech
executive Sheila Bell-Messier, who alleged the company suppressed
disclosure of billing issues in Texas, Colorado and Louisiana in
order to avoid additional penalties related to a previous civil
settlement. In 2002, while in bankruptcy, Rotech settled federal
civil claims related to billing issues in its Montana, Kentucky,
Florida and Georgia operations.

According to the unsealed qui tam action in the U.S. District
Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Bell-Messier “shut
down the billing” when she noticed that records were not in
compliance with federal directives. A statement from attorneys Berg
& Androphy, part of the legal team that represented
Bell-Messier, said she was asked to restart billing but refused,
saying she “was not going to Medicare prison for

Bell-Messier, of Texarkana, Texas, whose company had been
purchased by Rotech in 1995, stayed on with the company and had
overseen operations in 12 states.

In settling Bell-Messier’s claims, Rotech denied any
wrongdoing. The federal government did not intervene in the

Of the total settlement, $2 million will go to the government,
with Bell-Messier receiving 27 percent, or $540,000. Rotech will
also pay her legal fees of $1.2 million.