Wisconsin health system will pay $10M to settle whistleblower case

Agnesian HealthCare, a three-hospital system based in Fond du Lac, Wis., and its affiliated physician group have agreed to pay $10 million to resolve allegations that Agnesian paid kickbacks to physicians in exchange for patient referrals, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

An orthopedic surgeon who worked at Agnesian filed the lawsuit in 2014 under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act. He alleged the health system gave high-referring physicians extra compensation, over-priced physician services, and attempted to limit physicians' ability to refer patients to competing health systems if they left Agnesian.

The lawsuit, which the federal government declined to intervene in, accused the health system of violating Stark Law, the Anti-Kickback Statute, the federal False Claims Act and the Wisconsin False Claims for Medical Assistance Law, which has since been repealed.

Agnesian, part of St. Louis-based SSM Health, denied the allegations. The system admitted no wrongdoing and settled the lawsuit to "avoid the cost, expenses, and potential disruption to our healthcare ministry," a spokesperson told Wisconsin Public Radio.

Access the full Wisconsin Public Radio article here.

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