VENTURA COUNTY: Pays Off Balance of Medicare Billing Lawsuit
Ventura County last week paid the federal government the remaining $12.7 million balance in a lawsuit over false Medicare claims filed since 1992, the Los Angeles Times reports. Ventura County agreed in November 1999 to reimburse the federal government $15.3 million after a 10-month internal audit revealed that 96% of Ventura County Medical Center's psychiatric billings in 1998 and 88% of its 1997 psychiatric billings were erroneously paid by Medicare. Preferring to pay off the debt immediately by borrowing money at a relatively low interest rate, the county will avoid about $500,000 in interest charges. Supervisor Frank Schillo said the county will be able to pay back the loan "over five years or sooner." Ventura County used $3.5 million of its tobacco settlement funds to pay off the lawsuit's first five installments. However, that action prompted Community Memorial Hospital to start a ballot initiative that would transfer the remaining $260 million tobacco settlement to seven private hospitals in the county (Kelly, 8/9).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.