The Harris County (Texas) Hospital District has agreed to pay $15 million
to settle allegations it made false claims to state and federal programs
between 2000 and 2005, according to a settlement filed Monday in U.S.
District Court in Houston.
The terms of the settlement were made public in late March after the
hospital district board approved it in a public session, leading to a
story in the Houston Chronicle.
A billing services employee triggered an investigation in 2003 when he
filed a lawsuit alleging the three-hospital public system sought Medicaid
and Medicare payment before first looking for other third-party payers
and improperly submitted claims for care provided to incarcerated
patients rather than billing the individuals. Clerk Robert McCaslin Jr.,
who still works for the district, is set to receive $2.8 million of the
federal governments share under the whistle-blower provisions of the
False Claims Act, according to his lawyer, Mitch Kreindler.
A hospital district news release emphasized that there was no allegation
or admission of criminal wrongdoing in the matter. As soon as we learned
of the possible errors, we instituted changes within our business
processes to ensure that we were in compliance and will continue to be in
compliance with Medicare and Medicaid regulations, district President
and Chief Executive Officer David Lopez said in a written statement. --
by Gregg Blesch