- The Columbus, GA Regional Healthcare System has agreed to pay the federal government as much as $35 million in fines in a settlement that alleged overbilling and improper referrals of Medicare and Medicaid patients.
- The government and a whistle-blower claimed the system had billed at a level not backed by documentation and had referred patients to services in which the system had financial relationships.
- The system does not admit to any liability in the settlement.
The settlement stems from whistle-blower lawsuits filed by former system executive Richard Barker, who will be entitled to part of the settlement under the False Claims Act. The Justice Department hadn't determined payment as of last week.
The False Claims Act comes with a provision that encourages settlement: A losing defendant can face triple damages. Dr. Andrew Pippas, the medical director of the system's John B. Amos Cancer Center, will pay up to $425,000 as part of the settlement.