HMA Files Motion to Dismiss Suit Alleging Kickbacks, False Claims

Naples, Fla.-based Health Management Associates has filed a motion to dismiss a whistleblower suit by a former executive alleging the hospital operator provided kickbacks to physicians and as a result submitted false claims to Medicare, according to a Marco Eagle report.

Mike Mastej, former CEO of Physicians Regional Medical Center in Naples, filed the whistleblower suit in January. The suit alleges that HMA provided kickbacks, beginning in early 2007, to physicians for referrals in the form of on-call payments, reduced or free office space rentals and trips to the Masters Golf Tournament and then billed Medicare for services from these physicians.

HMA's motion argues that the whistleblower suit failed to provide enough specific information to prove any false claims and additionally failed to show how any specific hospital directly violated the anti-kickback law, as opposed to the parent company, according to the report.

Under the anti-kickback law, the defense argues, there must be evidence of an improper relationship between a physician and hospital, not a parent company. Additionally, the defense argued that before Dec. 2007, which is when the alleged kickbacks occurred, the anti-kickback law only applied to hospital relationships with individual physicians, not groups. The whistleblower case cited group relationships only, according to the report.

The Department of Justice investigated the original whistleblower case but did not intervene.

Read the Marco Eagle report on HMA.

Read more coverage on HMA:

- Whistleblower Suit Against HMA Alleges Improper Call-Coverage Payments and Other Perks; Government Chooses Not to Intervene

HMA Acquires Majority Stake in Three Shands Hospitals

Quarterly Profits Up Slightly at HMA

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