November 17-- Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia has settled a federal lawsuit out of court according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia.
"Meadows Regional Medical Center, Inc. (“Meadows”) and others have agreed to pay the United States and Georgia a total of up to $12,875,000 to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act.
The United States and State of Georgia contended that Meadows and others violated and conspired to violate the False Claims Act by submitting claims referred by physicians with whom Meadows had improper compensation arrangements, in violation of the Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute.
As part of the settlement, Meadows has also entered into a corporate integrity agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).
“This Office prioritizes the investigation of improper financial relationships between health care providers and referral sources because services reimbursed by federal health care programs should be based on the patients’ best interests, and not on the financial interests of their doctors. We will continue to use all available resources at our disposal to pursue culpable providers, executives, and physicians,” said United States Attorney R. Brian Tanner.
“In the early stages of this investigation, Meadows made available its executive team, voluntarily produced large numbers of documents, self-identified potential issues, proposed monetary and non-monetary corrective actions, and followed through on those proposals. Meadows should be commended for its response, which resulted in a resolution that acknowledged the substantial efforts Meadows made on its own accord.”
“Once Meadows learned of payments to providers for hospital referrals they quickly acknowledged the wrongdoing and took positive steps to correct the problems,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “It is essential that patients and taxpayers be confident medical decisions have not been tainted by illegal financial considerations.”
“Georgia’s Medicaid program depends upon the integrity of referral sources for healthcare services,” said Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. “Our office, through the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, will continue to safeguard our citizens from activity that places profits above patients. Providers like Meadows who voluntarily cooperate with investigations and take proactive remedial steps make protecting our programs much more effective.”
This investigation was conducted by Special Agent David Graupner, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Investigator Kimberly Reinken, United States Attorney’s Office, and Law Clerk Alison Slagowitz. The United States was represented by Assistant United States Attorney J. Thomas Clarkson. The State of Georgia was represented by Assistant Attorney General James Mooney with assistance from Investigative Auditor Denise Colson.
The claims resolved by the settlement agreement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.