Beth Israel to pay $13M for fraudulent Medicare fees

Beth Israel Medical Center has fessed up to fraudulently increasing service fees to reap millions of dollars from Medicare. In the False Claims Act lawsuit that was simultaneously filed and settled Thursday, the New York hospital agreed to pay $13.03 million for deliberately turbocharging between 1998 and 2003, the Associated Press reported.

Beth Israel Medical Center admitted and accepted responsibility for selectively inflating fees to get more "outlier payments" than it would have otherwise received, according to a statement from the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

The settlement, however, only covers periods February 2002 through August 2003, when the federal rules changed and turbocharging stopped, due in part because of statutes of limitation, The New York Times reported. Jim Mandler, a spokesman for the hospital, told the NYT in an email, "We are content that this issue with the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office, which has lingered for many years, has been settled."

Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in the statement, "The Medicare program provides a vital lifeline for its elderly and disabled beneficiaries. ... This settlement demonstrates our commitment to pursuing those whose conduct drives up the cost of health care."

Beth Israel must pay damages and civil penalties within 10 days of the settlement.

For more information:
- read the NYT article
- read the AP article
- check out the press release from the New York attorney's office (.pdf)

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