In yet another chapter of a history dogged by questions of corruption, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) has agreed to pay the federal government $8.3 million to settle charged that it paid illegal kickbacks to cardiologists.
The problem, according the the Department of Justice, arose around 1995, when UMDNJ's University Hospital saw a slowdown in the number of cardiac procedures it was performing. Because the hospital is required to perform a certain number of cardiac procedures to maintain state funding and accreditation as a Level 1 trauma center, the dropoff put its status at risk.
To address the problem, the DoJ contends, University Hospital began setting up part-time employment deals with community cardiologists, using those contracts as vehicles to pay kickbacks to cardiologists in exchange for patient referrals.
The government previously reached settlements with six of the cardiologists accused of receiving kickbacks through their UMDNJ contracts, and two others pleaded guilty to criminal embezzlement charges. The feds have filed a civil suit against two more cardiologists with purportedly illegal UMDNJ contracts, according to a DoJ statement.
Charges of corruption go back several years at UMDNJ. A few years ago, for example, a federal monitor concluded that the school had double-billed Medicaid for about $5 million worth of procedures. The school paid a $2M this year to settle those charges. Previously, in 2005, the University paid $4.9 million to the U.S. and state of New Jersey as part of a deferred prosecution agreement.
To learn more about the settlement:
- read the DoJ press release
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