Two hospitals cleared their legal plates before the year's end by settling fraud allegations with state and federal enforcement agencies.
Cumberland County Hospital System in Fayetteville, N.C., which does business as 546-bed Cape Fear Valley Health System, agreed earlier this month to pay nearly $1 million to settle charges that it falsely billed for home health visits between 1992 and 1998 for patients who were not homebound and improperly certified and whose visits were not ordered by physicians. Cape Fear disclosed the improper billings to HHS' inspector general in 1999.
And River Valley Behavioral Health of Owensboro, Ky., earlier this month agreed to pay $400,000 for allegedly making false statements to Kentucky's Medicaid program that overstated the length of patient stays.
The hospitals settled the civil allegations without admitting wrongdoing.
River Valley President and CEO Gayle DiCesare conceded that the hospital "actually did make a mistake in billing, but it was nothing malicious or fraudulent. It involved a Medicaid rule that could have been interpreted two different ways. We agreed our documentation needed more work and the government was very fair with us."
Officials at Cumberland County Hospital System could not be reached for comment at deadline. -- by Mark Taylor