Halifax Health's Legal Fees Hit $21M Mark

Daytona Beach, Fla.-based Halifax Health has spent $21 million in legal fees so far fighting a massive whistleblower lawsuit filed in 2009, according to a Daytona Beach News-Journal report.

In its evaluation, Standard & Poor's rating agency reaffirmed the public health system's A- credit rating with a negative outlook, partially due to concern about the potential $1.14 billion in damages associated with the lawsuit.

The suit was filed by Elin Baklid-Kunz, who currently works at Halifax as director of physician services. The suit accuses the 678-bed system of allegedly admitting patients inappropriately, allegedly billing Medicare for their services and having financial relationships with physicians that allegedly violated federal antikickback laws.

The Department of Justice joined the case in 2011, supporting some of the allegations — namely that the health system allegedly had illegal contracts with six oncologists and three neurosurgeons from 2005 through 2009, violating the Stark Law. Ms. Baklid-Kunz and her attorneys are still pursuing separate allegations that Halifax physicians improperly admitted patients and performed unnecessary back procedures.

In November, U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell ruled on a portion of the allegations, issuing a summary judgment that found Halifax violated Stark Law with its payments to the oncologists. Last month, the judge issued another partial summary judgment finding Halifax did not violate the Antikickback Statute through its bonuses to physicians.

Last August, Halifax reported having spent $15 million fighting the suit — an amount that was expected to grow in light of the March 2014 trial date.

A hospital spokesperson said Halifax would be open to settling to minimize future legal expenses if settlement terms did not include any admission of wrongdoing, according to the report. But a spokesperson from the DOJ declined to comment about the case or possibility of settlement. An attorney for Ms. Baklid-Kunz said a settlement has been discussed, but the terms were so different that he does not foresee an agreement being reached, according to the report.

More Articles on Halifax Health:

Potential Damages in Halifax Health Lawsuit Could Hit $1B
Judge: Halifax Violated Stark Law With Bonuses to Oncologists
Judge: Halifax Didn't Violate Anti-Kickback Statute With Physician Bonuses

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