Georgia's Columbus Regional Healthcare System will pay the government up to $35 million to settle lawsuits accusing it of violating a federal law governing physician self-referrals and billing the government for higher levels of services than those actually provided.
The government and a whistle-blower alleged that Columbus doled out excessive salary and directorship payments to Dr. Andrew Pippas in violation of the Stark law. That law prohibits physicians from referring Medicare and Medicaid patients to entities for certain services with which they have financial relationships.
The government and whistle-blower also alleged that from 2006 to 2013, Columbus billed federal healthcare programs for higher levels of services than supported by documentation. They also accused Columbus of billing the government for radiation therapy at higher levels than the amount of therapy that was actually provided between 2010 and 2012.
Columbus will pay the government $25 million, plus up to an additional $10 million in contingent payments. Pippas agreed to pay $425,000.
The settlement did not include any admission of liability.