Government intervenes in hospitalist case in California

by Ben Vernia | December 9th, 2013

On December 9, the Department of Justice announced that it had intervened in a whistleblower’s case against a Los Angeles, California-area company that provides hospitalist physician services in over half of the states. DOJ’s press release stated:

The government has intervened in a lawsuit against IPC The Hospitalist Co. Inc., and its subsidiaries (IPC), alleging that IPC submitted false claims to federal health care programs, the Justice Department announced today. IPC, based in North Hollywood, Calif., is one of the largest providers of hospitalist services in the United States, employing physicians and other health care providers who work in more than 1,300 facilities in 28 states. Hospitalists are physicians who work only in hospitals and other long-term care facilities, overseeing and coordinating inpatient care from admission to discharge.

The lawsuit alleges that IPC physicians sought payment for higher and more expensive levels of medical service than were actually performed – a practice commonly referred to as “upcoding.” Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that IPC encouraged its physicians to bill at the highest levels regardless of the level of service provided, trained physicians to use higher level codes and encouraged physicians with lower billing levels to “catch up” to their peers.

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