According to the U.S. Attorney Richard B. Roper of the Northern District of Texas, Harris Methodist HEB Hospital, a 284 bed acute-care facility, will pay $1.9 million to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by improperly submitting claims for payment for orthopedic-related items and services. These claims were identified as having taken place between March 15, 2004 and September 1, 2005.
According to the hospital in its own news release, the parent company of Harris Methodist HEB Hospital (Texas Health Resources) did a self report by telling the Office of Inspector General of Health and Human Services about it identification of a physician contract that did not comply with federal regulations. This triggered an investigation based on information provided by Harris Methodist HEB that Medicare and Texas Medicaid programs paid for orthopedic items and services referred to the hospital by a physician group that received free rent from the hospital, a violation of Stark self-referral law (also known as Physician Self-Referral Law).
The Stark law was created to forbid physicians from profiting from their own referrals. This law acts to sanction improper physician referrals and to stop the potential for over-utilization. In this fashion, physicians and other health care professionals are able to exercise independent judgment for what is in the best interests of their patients as opposed to themselves.
To read the full story click here or on the following to read more about the False Claims Act and the Stark Laws .
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