Fourteen additional hospitals settle kyphoplasty allegations

by Ben Vernia | February 7th, 2012

In a long-running qui tam suit in the Western District of New York, fourteen additional hospitals have resolved charges that they overcharged Medicare for the orthopedic procedure known as kyphoplast. According to DOJ’s press release:

Fourteen hospitals located in New York, Mississippi, North Carolina, Washington, Indiana, Missouri and Florida have agreed to pay the United States a total of more than $12 million to settle allegations that the health care facilities submitted false claims to Medicare, the Justice Department announced today.

The settling facilities include the following: Plainview Hospital, Plainview, N.Y. ($2,307,265); North Shore Syosset Hospital, Syosset, N.Y. ($192,735); North Mississippi Medical Center, Tupelo, Miss. ($1,894,683.30); Mission Hospital, Asheville, N.C. ($1.5 million); Wenatchee Valley Medical Center, Wenatchee, Wash. ($1,224,709.96); Community Hospital Anderson, Anderson, Ind. ($500,561.36); St. John’s Mercy Hospital, Creve Coeur, Mo. ($365,000); Gulf Coast Hospital, Fort Myers, Fla. ($173,005.86); Lee Memorial Hospital, Fort Myers, Fla. ($159,571.87); and Cape Coral Hospital, Cape Coral, Fla. ($73,279.47). Four hospitals affiliated with Adventist Health System/Sunbelt Inc. in Florida will pay a total of $3.9 million, and these include Florida Hospital Orlando, Florida Hospital-Oceanside, Florida Hospital Fish Memorial and Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center.

The settlements resolve allegations that these hospitals overcharged Medicare between 2000 and 2008 when performing kyphoplasty, a minimally-invasive procedure used to treat certain spinal fractures that often are due to osteoporosis. In many cases, the procedure can be performed safely as a less costly outpatient procedure, but the government contends that the hospitals performed the procedure on an inpatient basis in order to increase their Medicare billings.

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The Justice Department has now reached settlements with more than 40 hospitals totaling over $39 million to resolve false claims allegations related to kyphoplasty claims submitted to Medicare. These settlements follow the government’s 2008 settlement with Medtronic Spine LLC, corporate successor to Kyphon Inc., which paid $75 million to settle allegations that the company defrauded Medicare by counseling hospital providers to perform kyphoplasty procedures as an inpatient procedure even though the minimally-invasive procedure should have been done in many cases on an outpatient basis.

DOj announced that the relators will receive approximately $2.1 million of the settlements (a relator’s share of approx. 17.5%).

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