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Medtronic to pay South Dakota $400K in Medicaid settlement over alleged surgeon restaurant events

The settlement is part of the ongoing legal and financial fallout from the whistleblower case against Wilson Asfora, a former Sanford Health neurosurgeon. 

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Medical device maker Medtronic Inc. will pay South Dakota $400,000 in a Medicaid settlement agreement related to alleged payments to the restaurant owned by a former Sanford Health neurosurgeon, the South Dakota Attorney General's Office announced Thursday, Dec. 23.

The settlement is part of the ongoing legal and financial fallout from the whistleblower case against Dr. Wilson Asfora. Asfora and two companies he owned r eached a $4.4 million settlement with the Department of Justice in May to resolve claims he was part of an elaborate kickback scheme involving unnecessary surgeries and Medicaid fraud.

Federal prosecutors alleged Medtronic had funneled money to Asfora by paying for "lavish meals and alcohol" over nine years for the surgeon, his friends and business partners at Carnaval Brazilian Grill, a restaurant in Sioux Falls, owned by Asfora.

Prosecutors said Medtronic had made the payments to benefit Asfora and encourage him to implant Medtronic devices in his patients.

Previously, in October 2020, Medtronic had agreed to a $9.2 million settlement with the Department of Justice over the matter.

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The $400,000 settlement with South Dakota resolves the state's share of the alleged Medicaid damages, covering claims filed between September 2010 through September 2019. By agreeing to the settlement, Medtronic doesn't admit liability in the matter.

"Medtronic cooperated with the state throughout this matter," said South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, in a statement. "In reaching this resolution, we are able to ensure that the South Dakota Medicaid program is made whole."

Asfora was a neurosurgeon at Sanford Health when the Department of Justice first joined a whistleblower suit against him and Sanford over the alleged kickback scheme in 2019.

While Sanford Health initially defended Asfora, it fired him in September 2019. The next month it reached a $20.25 million settlement with federal prosecutors over the matter and later reached a $329,412 settlement with the state over its share of Medicaid claims.

Jeremy Fugleberg is an editor who manages coverage of health (NewsMD), history and true crime (The Vault) for Forum News Service, the regional wire service of Forum Communications Co, and is a member of the company's Editorial Advisory Board.
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