Christ Hospital in Cincinnati and its former parent, the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati, have reached a tentative agreement with the U.S. Justice Department that would resolve allegations that the hospital assigned panel time on its cardiac diagnostic unit to the most lucrative physicians. The settlement terms have not been disclosed. An order to dismiss the case as long as the settlement is finalized was entered in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati. The government formally joined the case in 2008, intervening in a whistle-blower lawsuit brought by a cardiologist formerly on staff at the 513-bed hospital. The lawsuit alleged that the hospital, as a matter of policy, assigned panel time as a reward to cardiologists whose procedures earned the most revenue for the hospital. The panel time, according to the lawsuit, was a form of kickback because it granted physicians opportunities to pick up new patients. “We cannot comment on any terms of the settlement because the parties are currently finalizing the written agreement; however, this settlement allows the hospital to avoid the risk of the multibillion-dollar award sought by the government,” according to a written statement from Christ Hospital.
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