The U.S. Justice Department is seeking to intervene in a False Claims Act lawsuit that accuses a public hospital in central Florida and its independent payroll firm of violating the Stark law in its relations with nine specialty physicians.
U.S. joins whistle-blower suit against Florida hospital
The tax-supported Halifax Health Medical Center and the related Halifax Staffing, both in Daytona Beach, Fla., were hit with a federal whistle-blower lawsuit in 2009 from its director of physician services, Dr. Elin Baklid-Kunz.
She levied a host of allegations at the healthcare system, and after years of investigation the Justice Department on Friday filed a motion to intervene in the complaint's allegations on the Stark law's restriction's on physician referral. The government did not join in the doctor's allegations that Halifax submitted false billings for unnecessary hospital stays.
The hospital has filed several motions and answers denying the allegations and requesting that the case be thrown out of court. The hospital argues in the documents that the doctor did not have the facts to support her claims and that the hospital is immune to False Claims lawsuits because of its status as a public hospital.
The case was filed under seal in 2009 in U.S. District Court in Orlando and then unsealed by Judge Gregory Presnell last June after government lawyers reported they had not yet decided whether to intervene in Baklid-Kunz' complaint.
The Justice Department has now requested that Presnell allow the department to join the case on the allegation that Halifax gave three neurosurgeons and six oncologists above-market-rate payments that could be construed as kickbacks, the Justice Department said in a news release .
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