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HCA - Parkridge Fined $16.5 Million
HCA Inc., one of the nation’s largest private hospital chains, has agreed to pay $16.5 million to settle alleged violations of the Ethics in Patient Referrals Act (also known as the Stark law), the False Claims Act, and other federal and state laws and regulations in connection with the operation of its subsidiary, Parkridge Medical Center, Inc., in Chattanooga. In addition, Parkridge Medical Center has entered into a comprehensive five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG) to ensure its continued compliance with federal health care benefit program requirements.
During 2007, HCA, through its subsidiaries Parkridge and HCA Physician Services (HCAPS), 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. The financial benefits included lease of office space from Diagnostic at a rental rate well in excess of fair market value to meet the mortgage obligations of the Diagnostic members and release of Diagnostic members from a separate lease obligation. These financial arrangements violated the Ethics in Patient Referrals Act and the Anti-Kickback Statute – laws designed to protect patients as well as the integrity of government-funded health care benefit programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, and TennCare.
As U.S. Attorney Bill Killian explained, “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.”
Federal law prohibits hospitals from submitting claims to government-funded health care benefit programs for inpatient and outpatient hospital services referred, ordered, or arranged for by physicians who have prohibited financial arrangements with those hospitals.
"We will not allow hospitals to provide financial incentives to induce physicians to steer patients their way," said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, HHS-OIG in Atlanta. "These arrangements can corrupt medical decision-making and may result in unnecessary diagnostic testing and hospital admissions."
During the period from 2007 through 2011, HCA through Parkridge, submitted or caused to be submitted claims to Medicare, TRICARE, and TennCare/Medicaid for inpatient and outpatient hospital services referred, ordered or arranged for by the Diagnostic physician members who benefitted from the prohibited financial arrangements between HCA Diagnostic. Medicare and the other health care benefit programs paid the claims for those hospital services, and this settlement addresses the financial harm to the Medicare and Medicaid trust funds, TriCare and TennCare for the moneys paid out of those funds which HCA improperly claimed and received during that time period. Under the False Claims Act, a recipient of such funds may be liable for as much as three times the amount paid by the government program plus civil penalties.
The determination of the losses suffered by the government in a False Claims Act case based on violations of the Stark law depends largely upon the number of physicians who benefitted from the financial arrangements with the hospital, the number of patients referred by those physicians to the hospital, and the amount paid by the government to the hospital for claims submitted for all those patients. The False Claims Act further provides for trebling of any losses and penalties of between $5,500-$11,000 per claim.
“Today's settlement is the third since 2005 involving violations by hospitals in Chattanooga of the Ethics in Patient Referrals and False Claims Acts and reflects the Justice Department's continued determination to enforce these laws to protect both patients and the Medicare and Medicaid trust funds,” said U.S. Attorney Killian. Mr. Killian further noted that this settlement resulted from a comprehensive investigation which began as a result of a qui tam or whistleblower complaint filed in 2008. After an administrative subpoena was served on HCA subsidiaries in July 2009, HCA produced documents to the United States and made its personnel available for interviews.
"The Defense Criminal Investigative Service is committed to ensuring that TRICARE, the U.S. military health care program, continues to provide safe and superior medical care to America's Warfighters and their families." said John F. Khin, Special Agent in Charge, Defense Criminal Investigative Service- Southeast Field Office. "The successful resolution of this case demonstrates the effectiveness of joint investigations to combat health care fraud and preserve the integrity of this vital program."
Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper noted: "We are proud to have worked closely with our federal partners to bring this case to resolution. Combating fraud is essential to the strength and integrity of the TennCare program and is a high priority of this office."
More Business News
Last Update on October 20, 2014 07:27 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new business survey finds hiring is healthy but pay raises, not so much.
The quarterly survey by the National Association for Business Economics finds that only 24 percent of companies increased wages and salaries in the July-September quarter. That's down from 43 percent in the April-June quarter and the first drop after three straight increases.
Yet the firms still added jobs at a healthy pace, which usually pushes wages higher as employers compete for workers. The figures suggest that the number of people out of work remains high enough that companies aren't under any pressure to raise pay.
And just one-third of respondents said they expect their companies will boost wages in the October-December quarter.
The NABE surveyed 76 of its member economists in late September
ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD
UNDATED (AP) -- Investors will have many more corporate earnings reports to look at this week.
Apple will report third quarter financial results today after the market closes.
Tomorrow, Coca-Cola, Reynolds American, Verizon Communications and McDonald's will report earnings before the market opens. Discover Financial Services and Yahoo will report results after the closing bell.
Also on Tuesday, the National Association of Realtors will release existing home sales for September.
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) -- Sprint Corp. has cut 452 jobs from its Overland Park, Kansas, headquarters as part of a previously announced cost-cutting effort.
The nation's third-biggest cellphone carrier disclosed the layoffs in a filing with the Kansas Department of Commerce.
The report, which was filed Friday, covers the first installment of layoffs planned throughout October. The Kansas City Star reports that it doesn't cover any job losses outside the headquarters campus, although they are believed to be happening too.
The company said earlier this month in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was cutting an unspecified number of jobs to better compete with AT&T and Verizon. Sprint said it would book a $160 million charge in its fiscal second quarter to cover the layoffs, which include managers as well as other employees. It may take more charges for future job cuts.
Another 477 Sprint employees in Overland Park were laid off earlier this year, bringing this year's job cut total to 929
Before the newly disclosed layoffs, about 7,500 worked for Sprint in the Kansas City area.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The bloody World War II drama "Fury" blew past "Gone Girl" at theaters this weekend.
"Gone Girl" was tops at the box office for two weeks before Brad Pitt and his rag-tag group of tank mates in "Fury" blasted the film to second place.
According to studio estimates Sunday, Sony's "Fury" captured $23.5 million in ticket sales during its opening weekend. Fox's "Gone Girl" followed with $17.8 million.
Two other new movies landed in the top five: The animated Fox feature "The Book of Life" opened in third place with $17 million; and Relativity's Nicholas Sparks romance "The Best of Me" debuted in fifth place with $10.2 million.
Disney's "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" placed fourth, dropping one spot since opening last weekend.
JAPAN-TRADE MINISTER RESIGNS
TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's trade minister has announced her resignation after allegations that she violated election laws.
Yuko Obuchi's resignation on Monday is the first for the current administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and could dent his efforts to raise the profile of women both in politics and business.
The questions over Obuchi's use of election funds are the latest in a series of uproars over activities by some members of Abe's Cabinet. Obuchi is one of five women Abe appointed to Cabinet-level posts in a reshuffle last month that highlighted his commitment to promoting women to leadership positions.
BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's finance minister says he's confident he can keep promises to balance the budget next year and is rejecting anew suggestions that the country should borrow to finance greater public investment.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is determined to stick to plans to get by without new borrowing next year for the first time since 1969, though Germany's growth outlook has weakened and Berlin faces calls from abroad to pump money into the economy.
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble acknowledged in Sunday's Welt am Sonntag newspaper that Germany "must invest more and improve our competitiveness." But he added: "We just don't want growth on credit."
Schaeuble said it's important to keep to promises and says he's confident a balanced budget can be achieved because "tax income doesn't react so quickly to economic changes."
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