A federal judge ruled that Tuomey Healthcare System in Sumter, S.C., must repay $44.9 million derived from Medicare claims for services referred by physicians engaged in prohibited financial relationships with the 274-bed hospital.
Tuomey to repay $44.9 million in claims
Following a March trial in U.S. District Court in Columbia S.C., a jury concluded that a number of arrangements with physicians violated the Stark law against physician self-referral but that Tuomey did not violate the False Claims Act. The jury awarded nothing to the government, which had joined a whistle-blower lawsuit filed by a surgeon in 2005.
Judge Matthew Perry, however, agreed with the U.S. Justice Department's subsequent motion arguing that the hospital should be obliged to return any Medicare dollars tied to referrals from those physicians. Perry also ordered a new trial on the False Claims Act allegations.
Dan Mulholland, a lawyer representing Tuomey in the case, said the hospital will wait for the judge to issue a formal order before deciding how to proceed.
He said Tuomey believes that the jury's finding on the Stark violation is irrelevant. “The only thing that ultimately mattered in that initial verdict is that the hospital had not violated the False Claims Act and the government took nothing,” Mulholland said.
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