Feds investigate Beth Israel for overbilling

Federal investigators are probing into Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's billing practices, investigating whether it overbilled Medicare by admitting patients for short stays who could have been treated as outpatients, The Boston Globe reported.

The Boston teaching hospital in 2010 received a subpoena from the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the U.S. Department of Justice, and the hospital disclosed financial information during the past six months.

"If there have been errors, we are committed to fixing them and to being completely responsive to any guidance from the government,'' hospital spokeswoman Judy Glasser said in the article.

Massachusetts healthcare union 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East said Medicare data found that 21 percent of Beth Israel Deaconess discharges from 2000 through 2005 were for one-day stays, far higher than the national rate of 13 percent, the union said in a letter to the Office of the Inspector General in Boston.

Legal experts have argued that Medicare's guidance on observing or admitting patients is unclear, and therefore hospitals could commit unintentional errors.

Beth Israel noted in its financial filings that the outcome of the investigation could harm profits.

For more information:
- read the Boston Globe article
- read the AP news brief

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