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Florida Hospital Group Pays U.S. $7,775,000 to Settle False Claims Act Allegations

WASHINGTON, May 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Baptist Health South Florida Inc., a health care system headquartered in Miami, has agreed to pay the United States $7,775,000 to settle claims that it violated the False Claims Act and the Stark Statute between 2003 and 2005, by paying excessive compensation to an oncology group that was a source of patient referrals to two of Baptist's hospitals, the Department of Justice announced today. The payments were made pursuant to a contract under which the oncology group provided physics and dosimetry services to the two hospitals.

Under the Stark Statute, Medicare providers like Baptist are prohibited from billing the federal health care program for referrals from doctors with whom the providers have a financial relationship, unless that relationship falls within certain exceptions. In February 2006, Baptist submitted a report to the Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Inspector General. The report described a contract under which Oncology Hematology Group of South Florida, a community-based medical group, provided physics and dosimetry services to Baptist Hospital of Miami and South Miami Hospital, two facilities owned by Baptist. (Physicists and dosimetrists assist radiation oncologists in planning radiation treatments for cancer patients.) In its report, Baptist stated that for a period of time between 2003 and 2005, it had inadvertently run afoul of the Stark Statute by paying more than fair market value for the oncology group's services. The settlement announced today resulted from the company's disclosure.

"The resolution of this matter yielded a substantial recovery for taxpayers, and it underscored our commitment to vigorous enforcement of the Stark Statute," said Gregory G. Katsas, acting Assistant Attorney General for the Department's Civil Division.

The case was handled by the Department of Justice's Civil Division and the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice
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