Several Florida hospitals have agreed to pay the government a total of $277,000 to settle charges they double-billed Medicare for surgery, diagnostic testing and emergency care.
More than 110 hospitals in Florida have received settlement offers ranging from several hundred dollars to more than $100,000, said Bill Bell, general counsel for the Florida Hospital Association.
Last year, 206 hospitals in Pennsylvania paid nearly $4.5 million to settle the Medicare billing investigation (Aug. 28, 1995, p. 26).
Besides Florida, hospitals in Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri have been contacted by federal officials, said Mary Catherine Frye, chief of the civil division of the U.S. attorney's office in Harrisburg, Pa.
Hospitals in all 50 states eventually will receive settlement proposals, Frye said. Audits have estimated that more than 4,600 hospitals may have received $40 million in improper payments.
The double-billing occurs when a Medicare patient is charged separately for surgery and for accompanying diagnostic tests. Medicare rules state providers are only entitled to a single payment. In addition, if a Medicare patient is admitted to a hospital within 72 hours after an emergency visit, hospitals are not supposed to bill Medicare for the visit.
Frye would not name the hospitals in Florida that have settled with the federal government. However, sources close to the situation said Orlando Regional Healthcare System has received a $92,000 settlement offer. The system is accused of 309 inappropriate claims totaling $112,000, which could increase through penalties to $3.3 million.