Georgia Hospital Settles |Referrals Kickbacks Case

     (CN) – A regional hospital serving Atlanta and Athens, Georgia will pay more than half a million dollars to settlement claims it paid kickbacks to a clinic for patient referrals.
     The settlement announced by the U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday settles claims that Walton Regional Medical Center, a Health Management Associates’ property now called Clearview, paid kickbacks to Hispanic Medical Management, also known as Clinica de la Mama, in violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act.
     Prosecutors said the kickbacks were disguised as payments for the clinic’s services.
     In return, the obstetric clinic, which mainly serves undocumented Hispanic women, referred their patients to deliver their babies at the hospital, which then billed Georgia’s Medicaid program for services provided to those patients, the government claimed.
     The lawsuit was filed under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which allows private parties to sue on the government’s behalf for such cases. The government is allowed to intervene in false claims lawsuits, which it did in the Walton Regional case.
     Under the terms of the settlement, Walton Regional. Clearview, will pay $595,155.
     The Justice Department says litigation with non-settling parties remain ongoing.
     Representatives of Walton Regional/Clearview could not immediately be reached for comment.

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