HCA Must Pay Federal Government $745M in Five Days
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled yesterday that HCA Inc., the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain, has five days to pay the government more than $745 million for defrauding federal health care programs, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. He also said that after receiving the payment the government would have about three weeks to pay more than $65 million to whistle-blowers who triggered the investigation. In a settlement reached with the government last year, HCA agreed to plead guilty to defrauding government health care programs and to pay more than $840 million in criminal fines, civil penalties and damages. The company has already paid $95.3 million in criminal fines, but had waited for Lamberth's ruling before paying $745 million in civil penalties. Lamberth ordered HCA to pay the federal government $731 million plus interest and state governments $13 million plus interest for their share of losses. "Within a few days we'll pay the amount," HCA spokesperson Jeff Prescott, said, adding, "It won't affect the operations of this company one bit." According to Credit Suisse First Boston health care analyst John Hindelong, "This is a number that's been settled upon, that's been talked about. It's very much as expected" (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/8).