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Texas Hospital Will Pay Feds $1 Million

DALLAS (CN) - Arlington Memorial Hospital will pay $1 million to settle False Claims Act allegations that it cheated Medicare for years of pulmonology-related items and services.

"In August 2007, AMH's corporate parent self-disclosed to the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services that a long-standing contract with a physician group for the interpretation of arterial blood gas (ABG) tests potentially violated federal law," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement. "The self-disclosure prompted an investigation, during which AMH cooperated fully with the government."

Prosecutors said the hospital in Arlington, Texas, through its former president, paid a physicians group for ABG tests even though the tests no longer required professional interpretation.

Rather than reduce the compensation, or revise the contract, AMH's former president agreed to pay the group for uncompensated charity care and oversight of AMH's blood gas lab, though the contract indicated payments were for interpretation of ABG tests. Medicare ultimately paid AMH for pulmonology-related items and services referred by the group's physicians between July 1, 2003, and July 1, 2007.

The government contended that AMH knowingly failed to eliminate payments to the group for the interpretations of ABG tests that were not performed, and that AMH knew such payments violated federal law.

AMH did not admit any wrongdoing and denied liability.

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