Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati, Christ Hospital Pay $108M to Settle Federal Kickback Accusations

The Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati and The Christ Hospital in Mount Auburn, Ohio, have agreed to pay $108 million to settle claims they violated the Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The organizations were accused of illegally paying physicians in exchange for referring cardiac patients to The Christ Hospital, a former member hospital of the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati.

The qui tam lawsuit was brought forth by a cardiologist alleging The Christ Hospital limited the opportunity to work at the Heart Station — a center where patients receive non-invasive procedures such as electrocardiograms and stress tests — to those cardiologists who referred cardiac business to The Christ Hospital.

The government further alleged that cardiologists were rewarded with a percentage of time at the Heart Station based on their contributions to the hospital's yearly gross revenues, and these physicians could earn additional income for treating patients at the facility.

The government claimed The Christ Hospital's use of Heart Station panel time to induce lucrative cardiac referrals violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and further alleged the claims submitted by The Christ Hospital to Medicare and Medicaid as a result of this illegal kickback scheme violated the False Claims Act.

Read the DOJ's statement on the Cincinnati kickback settlement.

Read The Christ Hospital's statement on the kickback settlement (pdf).

For more information about recent legal investigations involving improper financial relationships between hospitals and cardiologists, read "A Review of OIG Self Referral and Antikickback Cases: 5 Categories of Non-Compliant Physician Relationships and 8 Recent Cases."

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