A former California hospital executive agreed to pay HHS’ inspector general’s office $64,000 to settle allegations that he arranged payment to doctors to generate patient referrals.
Michael Bakst, who had been the executive director of then-Community Memorial Hospital of San Buenaventura, in Ventura, Calif., (Premium subscription required) denies the inspector general’s allegations, according to the settlement agreement. Bakst’s attorney Michael Amir echoed the agreement and said the settlement allows Bakst, an instructor in the Department of Human Behavior at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas, to avoid the cost and uncertainty of litigation and to move on.
According to the settlement, “This agreement is neither an admission of liability by (Bakst) nor a concession by the OIG that its claims are not well-founded.”
The inspector general’s office alleged that Bakst violated the Civil Monetary Penalties Law by orchestrating payment to doctors to induce referrals to the hospital between May 2002 and September 2003. Bakst also caused false claims to be submitted to Medicare that should not have been paid under the physician self-referral law, the office alleged. The inspector general’s office reached a separate $1.5 million settlement with Community Memorial Hospital in 2007.