Catholic Medical Center will pay $3.8 million to settle allegations that it violated the civil False Claims Act by providing free call coverage services to an off-duty cardiologist as a way to generate more patient referrals.
Catholic Medical Center paid its own cardiologists to cover another cardiologist's patients while she was away on vacation or otherwise unavailable in exchange for referrals to its New Hampshire-based center for additional care, the U.S. asserted in the settlement agreement.
Instead of charging the cardiologist for its services, the center received kickbacks in the form of millions of dollars of referrals for medical procedures which were submitted as claims to Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs, U.S. Attorney John Farley said in a news release.
"The False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Statute protect patients and federal healthcare programs from fraud and abuse by removing the corrupting influence of money," Farley said. "When patients are referred for medical services, those referrals should be based solely on medical need and not affected by financial considerations."
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