Healthcare Business News

Cincinnati hospital avoids Medicare exclusion

By Gregg Blesch
Posted: October 28, 2010 - 3:00 pm ET

Christ Hospital in Cincinnati has reached an agreement with HHS' inspector general's office that ends the possibility that the government might exclude the hospital from Medicare and Medicaid. The matter stems from a False Claims Act lawsuit that the 513-bed hospital settled in May with a $108 million payment.

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The lawsuit alleged that, from 1997 to 2004, cardiologists whose procedures yielded the most revenue at Christ Hospital were scheduled in a cardiac diagnostic unit, thus rewarding them with kickbacks in the form of opportunities to pick up new patients and get paid for reading tests.

The hospital did not admit wrongdoing and countered that the schedule relied on physicians most likely to be at the hospital to do the work. The settlement omitted a corporate integrity agreement with the inspector general's office, prompting the agency to initiate the process for dropping the hospital from federal health programs.

The five-year agreement calls for the hospital to adopt new compliance measures and hire a monitor to review financial relationships with physicians. In a written statement, Christ Hospital said many of the compliance measures identified have been adopted in the past four years as the hospital withdrew from the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati and re-established itself as an independent organization.



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