The U.S. Justice Department has joined civil whistleblower lawsuits filed against 27 hospitals around the country, the government announced. As reported in the Daily Dose, the Justice Department had to meet a Dec. 16 procedural deadline or risk violating a Seattle federal judge's order to disperse the suits. The suits allege that the hospitals billed Medicare for cardiac procedures performed on patients using investigational devices not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The suits stem from whistleblower suits filed in 1994 under the federal False Claims Act by former medical equipment salesman Kevin Cosens, who accused 132 hospitals of defrauding Medicare by more than $200 million from 1986 to 1995. The government has settled similar allegations with 31 hospitals for $42 million and is finalizing settlements with two others. Charges against 50 hospitals have been dropped. Leonard Homer of Ober, Kaler, Grimes & Shriver in Baltimore, whose firm represents 10 hospitals still facing allegations, said his clients plan to contest the allegations in court unless the government offers a low settlement. A Justice Department spokesman said there would be announcements about more hospitals soon.-- by Mark Taylor
Justice Dept. joins suits alleging improper billing
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