Abington (Pa.) Memorial Hospital was accused in a civil False Claims Act lawsuit of remaining "deliberately ignorant" of improper laboratory billing, even after having to return $275,000 to the state Medicaid program. In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan alleged that the 452-bed hospital did not check whether it improperly billed Medicare and other payers for laboratory claims after being notified by the state in 1994 that its Medicaid billing was inaccurate. As a result, the hospital collected more than $1 million from improper laboratory bills through 2000, Meehan charged. Abington President and CEO Richard Jones denied any intent to defraud but acknowledged "inadvertent payments were made," which the hospital offered to refund to Medicare. In 2000, Meehan's office notified the hospital that its outpatient clinical laboratory program was being investigated. According to allegations in the complaint, the hospital then "failed to maintain and/or intentionally destroyed and/or disposed of physician orders, billing and other records." Jones said the hospital would be "defending itself vigorously in the lawsuit the hospital feels has been unjustly brought." Under the False Claims Act, the hospital could be liable for up to $70 million in damages. -- by Mark Taylor
Pa. hospital should have reviewed billing: lawsuit
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