So. Cal. hospital pays $2.2 million to settle short-stay False Claims Act allegations

by Ben Vernia | September 20th, 2010

The Department of Justice announced on September 21 that El Centro Regional Medical Center in Imperial County, California, has agreed to pay $2.2 million, plus interest, to settle False Claims Act allegations. According to DOJ’s press release:

The government alleges that the 165-bed acute care hospital fraudulently inflated its charges to Medicare patients to obtain larger reimbursements from the federal health care program. The settlement covers claims submitted by the hospital for short inpatient admissions, usually of one day or less, when the services should have been billed on an outpatient “observation” basis or as emergency room visits.

The case was originally brought as a qui tam suit by a former employee. He will receive $375,000 (a 17% relator’s share of the principal).

In addition to the payment, the hospital has agreed to a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of Inspector General of HHS.

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