Feds join lawsuit against 2 hospital operators
February 20, 2014 11:45 AM | 488 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MACON, Ga. (AP) — The federal government has joined a whistleblower lawsuit against two large hospital operators accused of filing fraudulent Medicaid and Medicare claims.

The False Claims Act lawsuit was filed last year against Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. and four of its hospitals in Georgia and South Carolina, as well as a Georgia hospital owned by Naples, Fla.-based Health Management Associates Inc.

The lawsuit claims the hospitals entered into contracts with obstetric clinics operated by Hispanic Medical Management and Clinica de la Mama and their affiliates that primarily serve women living in the country without authorization. The suit says the clinics then referred the women to the hospitals in exchange for kickbacks from fraudulent claims.

Health Management Associates has declined to comment on pending litigation. Tenet said when the lawsuit was unsealed last year that it believes the agreements were appropriate and provided substantial benefit to women in underserved Hispanic communities. Phone numbers for Hispanic Medical Management and Clinica de la Mama, both in Georgia, could not immediately be found.

The federal whistleblower lawsuit, filed by Ralph Williams, a former chief financial officer for Health Management Associates, says the kickback scheme went on for more than a decade. The state of Georgia has also joined the lawsuit to recover state Medicaid funds.

"The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that health care providers who pay kickbacks in return for patient referrals are held accountable," Stuart F. Delery, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Civil Division, said in a statement. "Schemes such as this one corrupt the health care system and take advantage of vulnerable patients."

The Anti-Kickback Statute makes it illegal to offer, pay, solicit or receive payment to win referrals of items or services covered by Medicare, Medicaid and other federally funded programs. It's meant to make sure that a doctor's medical recommendations are based on the patient's best interest rather than financial incentives.



Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides