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HCA - Parkridge Fined $16.5 Million
HCA Inc., one of the nation’s largest private hospital chains, has agreed to pay $16.5 million to settle alleged violations of the Ethics in Patient Referrals Act (also known as the Stark law), the False Claims Act, and other federal and state laws and regulations in connection with the operation of its subsidiary, Parkridge Medical Center, Inc., in Chattanooga. In addition, Parkridge Medical Center has entered into a comprehensive five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG) to ensure its continued compliance with federal health care benefit program requirements.
During 2007, HCA, through its subsidiaries Parkridge and HCA Physician Services (HCAPS), entered into a series of financial transactions with a physician group, Diagnostic Associates of Chattanooga, through which it provided financial benefits intended to induce the physician members of Diagnostic to refer patients to HCA facilities. The financial benefits included lease of office space from Diagnostic at a rental rate well in excess of fair market value to meet the mortgage obligations of the Diagnostic members and release of Diagnostic members from a separate lease obligation. These financial arrangements violated the Ethics in Patient Referrals Act and the Anti-Kickback Statute – laws designed to protect patients as well as the integrity of government-funded health care benefit programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, and TennCare.
As U.S. Attorney Bill Killian explained, “Physicians should make decisions regarding referrals to health care facilities based on what is in the best interest of patients without being induced by payments from hospitals competing for their business.”
Federal law prohibits hospitals from submitting claims to government-funded health care benefit programs for inpatient and outpatient hospital services referred, ordered, or arranged for by physicians who have prohibited financial arrangements with those hospitals.
"We will not allow hospitals to provide financial incentives to induce physicians to steer patients their way," said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, HHS-OIG in Atlanta. "These arrangements can corrupt medical decision-making and may result in unnecessary diagnostic testing and hospital admissions."
During the period from 2007 through 2011, HCA through Parkridge, submitted or caused to be submitted claims to Medicare, TRICARE, and TennCare/Medicaid for inpatient and outpatient hospital services referred, ordered or arranged for by the Diagnostic physician members who benefitted from the prohibited financial arrangements between HCA Diagnostic. Medicare and the other health care benefit programs paid the claims for those hospital services, and this settlement addresses the financial harm to the Medicare and Medicaid trust funds, TriCare and TennCare for the moneys paid out of those funds which HCA improperly claimed and received during that time period. Under the False Claims Act, a recipient of such funds may be liable for as much as three times the amount paid by the government program plus civil penalties.
The determination of the losses suffered by the government in a False Claims Act case based on violations of the Stark law depends largely upon the number of physicians who benefitted from the financial arrangements with the hospital, the number of patients referred by those physicians to the hospital, and the amount paid by the government to the hospital for claims submitted for all those patients. The False Claims Act further provides for trebling of any losses and penalties of between $5,500-$11,000 per claim.
“Today's settlement is the third since 2005 involving violations by hospitals in Chattanooga of the Ethics in Patient Referrals and False Claims Acts and reflects the Justice Department's continued determination to enforce these laws to protect both patients and the Medicare and Medicaid trust funds,” said U.S. Attorney Killian. Mr. Killian further noted that this settlement resulted from a comprehensive investigation which began as a result of a qui tam or whistleblower complaint filed in 2008. After an administrative subpoena was served on HCA subsidiaries in July 2009, HCA produced documents to the United States and made its personnel available for interviews.
"The Defense Criminal Investigative Service is committed to ensuring that TRICARE, the U.S. military health care program, continues to provide safe and superior medical care to America's Warfighters and their families." said John F. Khin, Special Agent in Charge, Defense Criminal Investigative Service- Southeast Field Office. "The successful resolution of this case demonstrates the effectiveness of joint investigations to combat health care fraud and preserve the integrity of this vital program."
Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper noted: "We are proud to have worked closely with our federal partners to bring this case to resolution. Combating fraud is essential to the strength and integrity of the TennCare program and is a high priority of this office."
More Business News
Last Update on August 19, 2014 17:11 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer prices rose in July, at the slowest pace in five months.
The Labor Department says consumer prices edged up a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent last month, after larger gains of 0.3 percent in June and 0.4 percent in May.
The July price restraint came from falling gasoline prices, which had surged in June. All energy prices were down 0.3 percent and this helped offset a 0.4 percent rise in food costs, which have been pushed up by adverse weather including a drought in California.
Over the past 12 months, consumer inflation is up 2 percent while inflation excluding food and energy is up 1.9 percent. Price gains around 2 percent are considered moderate and meet the 2 percent inflation target set by the Federal Reserve.
Analysts believe overall prices will moderate further in coming months, helped by moderation in energy costs.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. home construction rebounded in July, rising to the fastest pace in eight months and offering hope that housing has regained momentum after two months of declines.
The Commerce Department says construction increased 15.7 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million homes. That was the fastest pace since November and followed declines of 4 percent in June and 7.4 percent in May.
Applications for building permits, considered a good sign of future activity, also showed strength in July, advancing 8.1 percent to an annual rate of 1.05 million, after declines of 3.1 percent in June and 5.1 percent in May.
The July rebound reflected strength in single-family home construction, which rose 8.3 percent, and in apartment construction, which was up 33 percent.
ATLANTA (AP) -- Home Depot's fiscal second-quarter net income increased 14 percent thanks to a rebound in its spring selling season.
Spring is the biggest season for home-improvement retailers, as homeowners and others work on their yards and gardens. While the season started off a bit cold and rainy, weather improved and shoppers headed out to stores to pick up supplies.
For the three months ended Aug. 3, Home Depot Inc. earned $2.05 billion, or $1.52 per share. A year earlier it earned $1.8 billion, or $1.24 per share.
Home Depot's stock gained $2.53, or 3 percent, to $86.12 before the market open.
Revenue climbed nearly 6 percent to $23.81 billion from $22.52 billion. This beat Wall Street's forecast of $23.57 billion.
CORAOPOLIS, Pa. (AP) -- Dick's Sporting Goods says its net income fell 17 percent in its fiscal second quarter, but its result still beat analysts' expectations and its shares rose in premarket trading.
The sporting goods retailer says it cut jobs in its golf business because of weaker demand for golf gear and services, but it doesn't say how many employees were let go.
The company says profit fell in the second quarter to $69.5 million from $84.2 million in the same quarter a year ago.
Earnings, adjusted for restructuring costs, came to 67 cents per share. The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 65 cents per share.
Shares of Dick's Sporting Goods rose 5.7 percent to $45.97 in premarket trading today.
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (AP) -- TJX says its second-quarter net income climbed 8 percent as sales strengthened in the U.S. and abroad.
The results for the parent company of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and other stores topped Wall Street's view. TJX also lifted its full-year earnings forecast, citing its better-than-expected second-quarter performance.
TJX earned $517.6 million for the period ended Aug. 2. That compares with $479.6 million a year earlier.
RECARO-CHILD SEAT RECALL
DETROIT (AP) -- Recaro is recalling more than 39,000 child safety seats because they can let a child's head move too far in a crash.
The recall covers ProSport model 385 seats made from June 16, 2010, to Jan. 31, 2013. The problem happens when the seats are installed with the lower latch anchors and without the top tether.
Recaro will notify owners and provide set of new instructions telling owners not to use the lower latch system with a child weighing 40 or more pounds. The company also will send a new instruction label for the seat.
The problem was discovered in testing by Recaro. The company says in documents sent to U.S. safety regulators that it cannot determine if the problem caused any injuries.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Brita is recalling more than 242,000 children's water filter bottles because the bottle lid can break or crack, possibly causing serious cuts.
Brita has received 35 reports of lids breaking or cracking, but no injuries have been reported.
The recalled bottles are a violet bottle with Dora the Explorer, a pink bottle with Hello Kitty, a blue bottle with SpongeBob Square Pants and a green one with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Each bottle has a Brita logo and white lid. And they're 6 inches tall and hold 15 ounces of liquid.
Consumers can return the bottles for a full refund. Information is at www.brita.com .
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