Hospital seeks repayments from docs after fraud settlement

Detroit Medical Center has been aggressively pursuing repayments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from physicians as part of a fraud settlement with the federal government, reported Crain's Detroit Business.

Twenty-nine physicians have received correspondence from the hospital and its property management affiliate who are seeking repayments for free computers, below-market rents and other professional services that had been provided over the past half-dozen years.

Some of the physicians have pushed back on the repayment requests for the computers, claiming that the requests for repayments for systems provided more than a decade ago were far too high.

"They were given to us with no obligation to pay back so we could access the database at the hospital," one anonymous doctor said. "DMC purchased it, depreciated it and they were sitting in storage rooms until they were given to us." Through an attorney, she succeeded in getting the payment demand for two computers, monitors and printers reduced by about 35 percent.

The hospital's $30 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice stems from its agreement to be purchased by Vanguard Health Systems in 2010. The feds had accused the hospital of improper financial relationships with its physicians.

The computers could be construed as violating anti-kickback laws if they were used as incentives to refer patients. Hospital press secretary Tiffany Jones asserts that most of the physicians say they don't have a problem with the repayments.

For more information:
- read the Crain's Detroit Business article
- review the DMC settlement with the Justice Department