Seven more hospitals paid a combined $5.4 million to settle civil fraud allegations that they billed Medicare for procedures using experimental cardiac devices, the U.S. Justice Department said. The settlements are the latest in an ongoing investigation involving more than 130 hospitals. To date, the Justice Department has recovered more than $40 million from 29 hospitals in whistleblower suits filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle in 1994 by former medical equipment salesman Kevin Cosens. Settling yesterday were: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, which paid $3.2 million; LDS Hospital, Salt Lake City ($850,000); General Hospital Center at Passaic (N.J.) ($760,000); Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center ($314,000) Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital, Inglewood, Calif. ($250,000); and Good Samaritan Hospital, San Jose, Calif. ($115,000). The hospitals settled without admitting guilt and denied wrongdoing.
The Justice Department also said it has intervened in four more Cosens' suits against other hospitals: Massachusetts General Hospital; Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Lahey Clinic Hospital, all in Boston, and the Hospital of the Good Samaritan in Los Angeles. Cosens' suit alleges that from 1986 and 1995 the hospitals defrauded Medicare and other federal healthcare programs of more than $200 million for treatments that employed experimental cardiac devices that had not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.