Columbia University, New York, will pay $480,000 to settle civil whistleblower charges that its surgeons falsely billed government healthcare programs for lung transplants performed at 406-bed Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center between 1993 and 1999. Specifically, the government alleged that Columbia falsely stated that pneumonectomies, or lung-tissue removal procedures, were performed instead of lung transplants. At the time, Medicare did not pay for lung transplants at Columbia Presbyterian. Columbia doesn't own the hospital but bills for services provided there by Columbia medical school physicians. In a written statement, Columbia spokeswoman Annie Bayne said, "The settlement represents a compromise of disputed matters and does not constitute an acknowledgement of liability for these issues." The complaint, based on a 1999 lawsuit filed by a former Columbia Presbyterian compliance officer, also alleged that improper billing for perfusion services, outpatient evaluations, care management and pathology consultations. -- by Mark Taylor
N.Y. university settles false-billing charges
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