Ohio health system to pay $21M to resolve false claims allegations

Akron (Ohio) General Health System, acquired by Cleveland Clinic in 2015, will pay $21.25 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act, the U.S. Justice Department said July 2. 

The settlement resolves allegations that the health system, between August 2010 and March 2016, paid certain physicians in excess of fair market value to secure referrals of patients in violation of the Stark Law and submitted claims for services provided to the illegally referred patients in violation of the False Claims Act. 

The Justice Department said that Cleveland Clinic voluntarily disclosed to the government its concerns with the compensation arrangements, which were put in place by Akron General's previous leadership team. 

"Improper payments to physicians for referrals threaten the integrity of our healthcare system and deprive patients of the independent medical decision making that they deserve," said acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton of the Justice Department's civil division. "The Justice Department is committed to upholding these important interests and to pursuing providers who engage in improper financial arrangements."

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