Health system pays $10.1M to settle overbilling charges

The BayCare Health System in Florida has agreed to pay more than $10.1 million to settle a federal investigation into its billing practices, the U.S. Justice Department announced last week.

The settlement will be paid by the hospitals that are part of BayCare's Morton Plant Mease Health Care affiliate, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The hospitals include Morton Plant Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital, Morton Plant North Bay Hospital, St. Anthony's Hospital, Mease Countryside Hospital and Mease Dunedin Hospital.

The hospitals overbilled the Medicare program between 2006 and 2008. They had billed certain cardiac procedures as inpatient, when they should have been billed as less costly outpatient procedures, according to the DOJ.

"Overbilling the government for routine procedures wastes valuable resources that could be used to care for other patients," Stuart F. Delery, a deputy assistant attorney general, said the DOJ statement. "At a time when we are trying to reduce public spending, it is especially important to ensure that hospitals do not overcharge the government by improperly inflating their billing." 

The settlement was part of a whistleblower lawsuit brought by a former Morton Plant employee, Tampa Bay Times noted. The employee, Randi Ferrare, will receive $1.8 million of the recovery.

For more information:
- read the Tampa Bay Times article
- here's the DOJ statement