Universal Health Services says it's closing in on settlement of billing fraud investigation

Hospital operator Universal Health Services plans to ink a compliance agreement with federal regulators as part of a broader settlement to resolve allegations of billing fraud, according to the Wall Street Journal.

During a healthcare industry conference in New York Wednesday, UHS CFO Steve Filton said the hospital operator is still waiting for a draft of a compliance agreement from the HHS Office of Inspector General and will then begin negotiating the terms.

King of Prussia, Pa.-based UHS noted the same development — waiting for a corporate integrity agreement from the OIG — in its last earnings statement in July.

On Wednesday, Mr. Filton said UHS anticipates the agreement to be incremental and "not really require fundamental changes in the business," according to the WSJ. He said UHS has shown the government what its compliance program entails, and UHS considers it "fairly robust and comprehensive."

The agreement is part of a settlement package to close the civil investigation into UHS' billing practices that dates back to 2013. UHS said in July that it reached an agreement in principle with the Justice Department to resolve the civil aspect of the department's investigation into the company's behavioral health facilities for $127 million. UHS also disclosed in July that Justice Department's Criminal Frauds Section closed a related investigation into its operations.  

The OIG negotiates corporate integrity agreements with healthcare providers as part of settlements of federal healthcare program investigations under a variety of civil false claims statutes. Providers agree to the obligations, and the OIG agrees to refrain from seeking their exclusion from participation in Medicare, Medicaid or other federal programs. A comprehensive agreement typically lasts 5 years.

Editor's note: This story was updated at 11:04 AM CST. An earlier version of this story mistakenly linked the pending settlement to allegations raised in a 2016 Buzzfeed article about UHS.

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