Hospitals

Cincinnati hospitals pay feds $2.6M to settle kickback charges

The Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati and two former member hospitals agreed to pay the federal government $2.6 million in fines to settle kickback charges, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The alleged scheme involved 310-bed Fort Hamilton Hospital in Hamilton, Ohio, and University Internal Medicine Associates, a physician group based at The University […]

The Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati and two former member hospitals agreed to pay the federal government $2.6 million in fines to settle kickback charges, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The alleged scheme involved 310-bed Fort Hamilton Hospital in Hamilton, Ohio, and University Internal Medicine Associates, a physician group based at The University Hospital in Cincinnati. The scheme stemmed from Fort Hamilton’s desire to provide interventional cardiology procedures.

The University Hospital group agreed to perform the cardiology procedures at Fort Hamilton, but only if Fort Hamilton would refer cardiology patients and procedures to it on a preferential basis. The DOJ alleges that the arrangement violated federal anti-kickback laws, which prohibit a hospital from soliciting or receiving, or a physician from offering or paying, anything of value in return for patient referrals.

The arrangement resulted in some patients being transferred to University Hospital, or seen by the hospital’s doctors, instead of the hospital or doctors they preferred, according to the DOJ’s statement.

The allegations were initiated by a whistle-blower, Dr. Deborah Hauger, a cardiologist who formerly worked at Fort Hamilton. Hauger received $468,000 as part of the settlement.

The settlement with the DOJ is the Health Alliance’s second involving kickback schemes and former member hospitals in as many months. In May, The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati paid $108 million to settle a whistle-blower lawsuit that accused the hospital of defrauding federal healthcare programs by making improper payments to cardiologists in exchange for generating hospital revenue.

The Health Alliance, an affiliated group of hospitals, dissolved earlier this year, with the University Hospital coming under the control of the University of Cincinnati and Fort Hamilton set to join Dayton’s Kettering Health Network. The University of Cincinnati is the only remaining member of the alliance.

Photo from flickr user KeithBurtis