Hospital District Settles Kickback Claims

     (CN) – A Florida hospital district agreed to pay the federal government $69 million to settle allegations that it had improper financial relationships with referring physicians, the Justice Department said.
     North Broward Hospital District is a special taxing district in Florida that runs hospitals and health care facilities in and around Broward County, Fla., according to the government. The U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday that the district agreed to settle False Claims Act allegations.
     The hospital district was accused of paying nine physicians in excess of the fair market value for their services in violation of the federal Stark Statute and the False Claims Act, a Justice Department press release states. The Stark law restricts financial relationships between hospitals and doctors who refer patients to them.
     The allegations come from a lawsuit filed by whistleblower Dr. Michael Reilly against the district. Reilly will get $12 million from the settlement, the government said. The False Claims Act allows citizens who sue on behalf of the government to share in recovery.
     “Our citizens deserve medical treatment uncorrupted by excessive salaries paid to physicians as a reward for the referral of business rather than the provision of the highest quality healthcare,” said Southern Florida U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer in a statement.
     Benjamin Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division said the settlement “should deter similar conduct in the future and help make health care more affordable.”

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