Another nine hospitals entered settlement agreements with the U.S. Justice Department to resolve allegations involving Medicare billings for kyphoplasty, a minimally invasive spine procedure.
Nine hospitals settle Kyphon-related cases
Settlement payments range from $196,000 to $2 million and total $9.4 million. Each of the agreements stipulates that the hospital does not admit liability by settling the matter. The government contends that the hospitals admitted patients overnight for kyphoplasty in order to boost reimbursement, when in most cases an outpatient setting was more appropriate.
The government's investigation into kyphoplasty billing was triggered by a False Claims Act lawsuit filed by Chuck Bates and Craig Patrick, both former employees of a company called Kyphon, which makes kits used in the procedure. Medtronic, which acquired Kyphon, agreed to pay $75 million to settle allegations that Kyphon promoted the billing strategy to physicians and hospitals.
Bates and Patrick have filed a second lawsuit targeting hospitals, and the U.S. attorney's office in Buffalo, N.Y., is believed to be conducting a national investigation of kyphoplasty claims, yielding settlements totaling $10 million in 2009.
The largest settlements in the latest round are: $2 million each from 333-bed Ball Memorial Hospital, Muncie, Ind., and 806-bed Huntsville (Ala.) Hospital; $1.9 million from 428-bed Palmetto Health Baptist, Columbia, S.C.; and $1.4 million from 297-bed Bloomington (Ind.) Hospital.
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