HCA Reportedly Reaches Deal With Justice Department on Fraud Settlement
HCA, the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain, has reached an agreement "in principle" with the Justice Department to pay more than $880 million to settle the government's inquiry into accusations of health care fraud, the New York Times reports. Under the settlement, expected to be announced as early as today, HCA will pay $630 million in fines and penalties to resolve all outstanding civil litigations with the Justice Department and pay $250 million to Medicare to resolve cost reports submitted to the program between 1993 and 2001 (Eichenwald, New York Times, 12/18). The Justice Department delayed the $250-million Medicare agreement for over eight months to allow accountants and other experts to study the cost reports (California Healthline, 11/19). People involved in the case noted that certain aspects of the settlement have not been completed and could be subject to change, the Times reports. The settlement stems from eight whistleblower lawsuits that were filed beginning in 1993 alleging that HCA overstated its expense statements, charged for services ineligible for reimbursements and paid kickbacks to physicians to encourage referrals to HCA facilities. The new agreement could mark the end of the longest-running government health care fraud investigation ever, according to the Times. Combined with previous settlements, the company would be paying more than $1.7 billion to settle civil and criminal charges, "by far the largest amount ever secured by federal prosecutors in a health care fraud case," the Times reports. HCA officials had no comment on the settlement (New York Times, 12/18).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.