West Jefferson Medical Center, Marrero, La., has agreed to pay $3.3 million to the federal government and the state of Louisiana to resolve allegations that the 307-bed public hospital collected Medicaid reimbursement as a Level 1 pediatric intensive-care provider but didnt qualify for the designation, the Justice Department announced.
A lawyer representing the hospital said West Jefferson entered the agreement because it could ill afford to challenge the allegations in the extremely difficult financial environment that providers face in the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina. The case was settled in order to avoid the expense and trials of litigation, without any concession or admission of liability, said Peter Butler Jr., a partner in Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson. All of the events which were the subject of this matter took place many, many years ago under prior administrations, Butler said. The alleged overpayments were made from 1998 to 2003, according to the settlement agreement.
The governments allegations stem from a whistle-blower lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act by a former nurse, who is set to receive $627,700 from the payment. -- by Gregg Blesch
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