St. Francis Hospital, Greenville, S.C., agreed to pay nearly $9.5 million to settle allegations of Medicare billing irregularities in its home health, hospice and durable medical equipment programs, HHS' inspector general's office said. The irregularities occurred from 1997 to 1999, when St. Francis was owned by Franciscan Health Partnership, Latham, N.Y. Franciscan sold the Greenville hospital and seven others to Bon Secours Health System in 1999 and closed its last hospital in 2000. Bon Secours discovered the irregularities and reported them under the inspector general's "self-disclosure protocol," the inspector general's office said. The hospital was not required to sign a corporate integrity agreement because of its voluntary disclosure, its quick remedial actions and the fact that Bon Secours inherited the problems, the office said. Officials at Marriottsville, Md.-based Bon Secours could not immediately be reached for comment.
In other legal news, Kindred Healthcare announced a civil settlement with Kentucky's attorney general regarding quality-of-care issues and alleged Medicaid billing fraud. Ending an investigation begun in 2000, Louisville, Ky.-based Kindred will pay $450,000 to various state agencies, donate $500,000 to the Kentucky Nursing Incentive Scholarship Fund, enhance staff training programs and hire specialized clinical consultants to support specific nursing centers. Kindred said the programs will be implemented at 16 of its Kentucky nursing centers at an annual cost of about $900,000. -- by Vince Galloro and Julie Piotrowski