LOS ANGELES - Come next month, Patric Hooper will begin his 50th year litigating health care matters and his 47th year representing just providers and suppliers in the industry, primarily in disputes with the federal and state governments. He cofounded the law firm that bears his name 35 years ago.
That depth of experience gives him and his colleagues an advantage over many others in the area, he said. "We've had some of the leading cases in the field of health care fraud enforcement for many, many years," he said.
Early in his career, Hooper specialized "in the intricacies of the regulatory environment," especially complex Medicare and Medicaid payment issues. Since the False Claims Act was amended in 1986, he has focused on defending providers accused of fraud by governments and whistleblowers.
"That area has kept me busy and has kept many people in our firm busy for many, many years," he said. "There's more activity now than ever," Hooper said.
In May, he settled a case after just one day of trial that the federal government had brought eight years earlier. His clients were two experts in manufacturing spinal implants who set up separate distributorships with hundreds of doctors around the country. The government sought $30 million for what it contended were kickbacks disguised as profits paid to the doctor-owners.
The case was "the lead case in determining whether physician ownership of spinal implant companies is an appropriate and legal practice under the Anti-Kickback statute," Hooper said. U.S. v. Reliance Medical Systems, 2:14-cv-06979 (C.D. Cal., filed Sept. 8, 2014).
During that first day of trial, the judge "kept reading [the government attorneys] the riot act" for the late disclosure of exculpatory evidence and "strongly encouraged" them to settle. They did, accepting just $1 million.
"I've had a lot of success," he said. "I've also lost a lot of cases." For instance, he won a first-impression decision in 2019 about a highly technical aspect of Medicare reimbursement for molecular diagnostic testing. But the 9th Circuit reversed last year. He's going to try again soon in the D.C. federal courts. Agendia Inc. v. Becerra, 4 F. 4th 896 (9th Cir. 2021).
Hooper and his firm are also representing a doctor and wife charged in the Varsity Blues college admission scandal. The client entered a conditional guilty plea preserving their right to challenge the conviction on the grounds that the alleged conduct did not constitute a federal crime. The First Circuit has yet to decide the issue on appeal. U.S. v Colburn, 22-1305 (1st Circ., filed April 25, 2022).
"That's the kind of case that I find very, very interesting, and what's great about our law firm is we take a case like that."