HHS' Inspector General Daniel Levinson's office today notified Tenet Healthcare Corp. that it intends to exclude Tenet's Alvarado Hospital Medical Center, San Diego, from the Medicare and Medicaid programs for allegedly violating federal anti-kickback provisions. The decision follows two federal court mistrials in which federal prosecutors attempted to prove that the 151-bed hospital paid kickbacks to induce physician referrals from 1992 to 2003. Tenet said in a statement that excluding Alvarado from government programs ultimately could lead to the hospital's closure. "We believe that nothing in the hospital's practice of recruiting physicians to eastern San Diego County warrants a forced sale or closure of the hospital -- especially given the lack of any evidence that any physician compromised his or her medical judgment when referring a patient to Alvarado." Alvarado has 30 days to challenge the proposed exclusion and the right to an HHS' administrative hearing. -- by Mark Taylor and Vince Galloro
HHS to exclude Tenet hospital from Medicare, Medicaid
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