Halifax Settled FCA Allegations for $85M, Announces DOJ

Daytona, Fla.-based Halifax Hospital Medical Center and Halifax Staffing have agreed to pay $85 million to resolve allegations they violated the False Claims Act by submitting claims to Medicare that were in violation of the Stark Law, according to the Department of Justice.

The government alleged Halifax knowingly violated the Stark Law by executing contracts with six medical oncologists that included an incentive bonus that improperly included the value of prescription drugs and tests that the oncologists ordered and Halifax billed to Medicare.

The government also alleged Halifax knowingly violated the Stark Law by paying three neurosurgeons more than fair market value for their work, and that the hospital admitted patients who didn't need to be admitted, then billed Medicare for their care.

Because of the complexity and breadth of the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell agreed to split the case into two trials. One trial focusing on bonuses paid to the oncologists and on the alleged excessive compensation paid to the three neurosurgeons, and a second trial focusing on the fraudulent billing for the patients who were unnecessarily admitted to the hospital.

The first trial was scheduled to begin on March 3, but just before the jury was seated Halifax and prosecutors came to a settlement agreement for $85 million.

"This settlement illustrates our firm commitment to pursue healthcare fraud," said U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III, in a news release. "Medical service providers should be motivated, first and foremost, by what is best for their patients, not their pocketbooks."

This settlement stems from a whistle-blower complaint filed by an employee of Halifax pursuant to the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. The Act permits the government to intervene and take over the lawsuit, as it did in this case.

The second trial is scheduled to begin in July.

 More Articles on Stark Law:

8 Key Trends in Healthcare False Claims and Antitrust Litigation
3 Tuomey Trustees Resign From Board in Light of Ongoing Lawsuit 
Saint Joseph London Settles to Pay $16.5M to Settle Allegations of Unnecessary Procedures, False Claims 

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