DOJ Expands ‘Whistle-Blower’ Lawsuit Against CHW
The Department of Justice is "joining new portions of a whistle-blower lawsuit" against Mercy Healthcare Sacramento and its parent company Catholic Healthcare West, the Sacramento Business Journal reports. The government last May joined the CHW case, which claims that Mercy and 13 other CHW hospitals "knowingly double and triple charged the Medicare program for the same expenses on multiple occasions." After reviewing four specific allegations against four hospitals in Sacramento -- Mercy General, Mercy San Juan, Mercy American River and Mercy Folsom -- the Justice Department opted to pursue "new claims" against the hospitals, which charge them with "filing false Medicare cost reports." The new charges increase the claim against CHW to $20 million. The original suit was initiated by Joseph Kimball, who worked in Mercy's billing department until August 2000. His suit alleges that the company made fraudulent billings worth $19 million. Regarding the expanded federal involvement in the lawsuit, CHW president and CEO Lloyd Dean said, "We will cooperate with the government and the courts in an effort to put these issues behind us as soon as possible so that we may return ... to fulfilling our mission, which is providing quality health care to people, regardless of their ability to pay." The government's amended complaint against CHW will be filed Feb. 28 (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 2/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.