Tenet Healthcare Corp. has agreed to pay $42.8 million to settle claims that it overbilled the federal Medicare system at 25 facilities from 2005 to 2007. The settlement arose from disclosures Tenet made in 2007 to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Tenet was under a corporate integrity agreement after paying more than $900 million in 2006 to resolve allegations of overbilling made under the False Claims Act. Apparently, that didn’t have the desired effect.
In the new case, Dallas-based Tenet settled claims that it improperly billed Medicare for patient treatment at inpatient rehabilitation facilities, which require higher levels of care that acute-care hospitals or skilled nursing facilities. This case is the largest ever arising from admissions to inpatient rehabilitation facilities, according to the Justice Department. The settlement came under the False Claims Act, which more typically involves allegations filed by a whistleblower who sues on behalf of the government and shares in any recovery.
Since 2009, the Obama Administration has recovered more than $6.6 billion in False Claims Act cases relating to healthcare fraud, according to the Justice Department. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Atlanta joined this investigation, which began after Tenet disclosed improper billing at a facility in that state. Atlanta U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates had this to say in the statement concerning the case:
Inpatient rehabilitation facilities are expensive, and Medicare dollars should be reserved for patients who need the services-not for hospitals seeking to make money through improper billing
While the agreement resolves overbilling claims at 25 facilities, Tenet still owns only eight of them. Healthcare fraud hurts all Americans and can’t be tolerated. Over the years the drug companies apparently believed they could cheat when dealing with government programs and many companies did cheat. There have been many settlements over the past few years and that’s good news for all of us.
Source: The Birmingham News
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