Medical-equipment maker Hill-Rom agreed to pay $41.8 million to settle a whistle-blower lawsuit (PDF) alleging the company's billing practices caused Medicare to pay for equipment for patients who no longer needed it, including some who had died.
Hill-Rom settles whistle-blower case for $41.8 million
The False Claims Act lawsuit was filed in 2005 by two nurses who worked for the Batesville, Ind.-based company as sales representatives. According to the complaint they filed in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tenn., Hill-Rom billed the government from 1999 to 2007 for bed-support surfaces used in the treatment of pressure wounds without monitoring the status of the patients in order to determine the equipment continued to be medically necessary.
The company allegedly discovered in a 2003 internal audit that medically necessity could not be verified for 65 of 99 cases reviewed and nonetheless billed Medicare for equipment provided to 44 of those beneficiaries, according to the settlement agreement.
Hill-Rom issued a written statement saying that the company continues to “vigorously disagree” with the allegations. The agreement stipulates that the Hill-Rom did not admit liability by settling.
The U.S. Justice Department joined the case on Monday. In addition to the $41.8 million payment, Hill-Rom agreed to enter a five-year corporate integrity agreement with HHS' inspector general's office. The employees who brought the suit—one resigned in 2002 and the other still works for the company, according to the settlement agreement—are in line to share $8 million from the settlement amount under the agreement.
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