Medicare suits target hospitals

Dec. 17, 2002 at 10:49 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The Justice Department has joined whistleblower lawsuits against nearly 30 hospitals across the country for allegedly overcharging Medicare, the department said Tuesday.

The government says between 1986 and 1995, the hospitals improperly charged the senior's health care program tens of millions of dollars for experimental cardiac devices that had not been proved safe and effective.

The department said it has intervened in related lawsuits against the following hospitals:

Stanford Hospital and Clinics in California; Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut; Washington Hospital Center in Washington; Florida Hospital Medical Center and Orlando Regional Medical Center in Florida; St. Joseph's Hospital of Atlanta, Emory University Hospital and Crawford Long Hospital of Emory University in Georgia; Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Foster G. McGaw Hospital of Loyola University of Chicago in Illinois.

Also named were Clarian Health Partners, doing business as Methodist Hospital of Indiana, and St. Vincent's Hospital and Health Care Center in Indiana; Trinity Health-Michigan, d/b/a St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan; St. Francis Hospital, Roslyn and Montefiore Medical Center in New York; St. Vincent Hospital and Medical Center in Oregon; Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Presbyterian Hospital of University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Pennsylvania.

St. Thomas Hospital in Tennessee; Baylor University Medical Center and Methodist Hospital, Lubbock, in Texas; Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Virginia; Sacred Heart Medical Center and Providence Medical Center in Washington state; and Aurora Heath Care Metro Inc., doing business as St. Luke's Medical Center and Aurora Sinai Samaritan Medical Center in Wisconsin also are on the list.

The department said the interventions announced Tuesday bring to 40 the number of hospitals the government is actively pursuing in these related cases.

The government previously reached settlements with 31 hospitals for a total of $42 million, and is in the process of finalizing settlements with two other hospitals, the department said.

The lawsuits originally were filed by a "relator" or whistleblower under the False Claims Act. The act allows private citizens to file suit on behalf of the government and share in any recovery. The relator in the current cases, Kevin Cosens, is a former medical device salesman.

The cases will be pursued jointly by the Civil Division of the Justice Department and U.S. attorney's offices across the country.

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