Arizona Heart Hospital in Phoenix and two affiliated physician groups have agreed to pay $6.7 million to settle allegations they improperly billed Medicare for procedures involving experimental grafts for aneurysms, the U.S. Justice Department announced.
Some of the procedures in question were not covered because the particular grafts used were considered experimental, while other disputed procedures veered from the approved protocols for the devices, but quality of patient care was not an issue in this case, according to a Justice Department news release. The hospital and physician groups admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement agreement.
The 59-bed hospital is majority-owned by publicly traded MedCath Corp., with the remaining shares held by physicians. The affiliated physician groups Arizona Heart Institute and AHI Cardiovascular Surgeons have paid $900,000 of the settlement amount, according to the Justice Department.
In an interview, MedCath President and Chief Executive Officer O. Edwin French said that the hospital was FDA-approved for a clinical trial of the devices. These are old cases, French said, noting that they were performed between 1998 and 2002. We actually reported ourselvesthe hospital discovered grafts were used in ways that werent approved, French said.
MedCath disclosed in August it had reached an agreement with the Justice Department and would pay $5.8 million to settle allegations involving a clinical trial at one of its hospitals, though the facility was not named. This is old news to Wall Street, French said. -- by Gregg Blesch
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