Home > Audits and Billing Issues, Fraud and Abuse, Hospitals, Medicare > USDOJ: Hospital Chain HCA Inc. Pays $16.5 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations Regarding Chattanooga, Tenn., Hospital

USDOJ: Hospital Chain HCA Inc. Pays $16.5 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations Regarding Chattanooga, Tenn., Hospital

HCA Inc., one of the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chains, has agreed to pay the United States and the state of Tennessee $16.5 million to settle claims that it violated the False Claims Act and the Stark Statute, the Department of Justice announced today.

As alleged in the settlement agreement, during 2007, HCA, through its subsidiaries Parkridge Medical Center, located in Chattanooga, Tenn., and HCA Physician Services (HCAPS), headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., entered into a series of financial transactions with a physician group, Diagnostic Associates of Chattanooga, through which it provided financial benefits intended to induce the physician members of Diagnostic to refer patients to HCA facilities. These financial transactions included rental payments for office space leased from Diagnostic at a rate well in excess of fair market value in order to assist Diagnostic members to meet their mortgage obligations and a release of Diagnostic members from a separate lease obligation.

The Stark Statute restricts financial relationships that hospitals may enter into with physicians who potentially may refer patients to them. Federal law prohibits the payment of medical claims that result from such prohibited relationships.

“The Department of Justice continues to pursue cases involving improper financial relationships between health care providers and their referral sources, because such relationships can corrupt a physician’s judgment about the patient’s true healthcare needs,” said Stuart F. Delery, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Civil Division.

“Physicians should make decisions regarding referrals to health care facilities based on what is in the best interest of patients without being induced by payments from hospitals competing for their business,” said Bill Killian, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

“Improper business deals between hospitals and physicians jeopardize both patient care and federal program dollars,” said Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services. “Our investigators continue to work shoulder to shoulder with other law enforcement authorities to stop schemes that imperil scarce health care resources.”

See on www.justice.gov

For an aggregation of other articles on Hot Topics in Healthcare Law, go to my magazine on Scoop.it – Hot Topics in Healthcare Law and Regulation and my newspaper on Paper.li – Hot Topics in Healthcare Law.

For an aggregation of other articles on improving healthcare, go to my internet magazine Scoop.it! Changing Health for the Better.

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