- County-owned Citizens Medical Center in Victoria, Texas will pay the federal government $21.75 million to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act and Stark Law.
- The suit claims that the hospital paid several cardiologists more than fair market value for the services, as well as providing bonuses to ER docs that "improperly took into account the value of their cardiology referrals," according to the DOJ. The hospital will also pay $1.8 million to the physicians' attorneys within 10 days.
- The hospital has admitted to no wrongdoing in the settlement and no improper care was found.
County Judge Ben Zeller called the amount "staggering." The hospital still has about $70 million in reserves, according to Zeller, and hospital representatives say that taking the settlement will allow the facility to keep its doors open. "It could have been the entire reserve fund," Zeller said.
Kevin Cullen, the county's attorney, told the Victoria Advocate that he anticipated fighting the suit would have cost several million dollars and an appeal no matter how a trial was decided—prolonging the process and racking up avoidable bills. Commissioner Gary Burns told the Victoria Advocate that neither the county and hospital could "afford the potential liability" of a $300 million or $400 million settlement had the lawsuit proceeded.
"The risk of a loss would jeopardize the financial stability of the hospital," Cullen said. "That's a risk we cannot take."