By Maria Wiering
Catholic Health Initiatives, which sold St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson to the University of Maryland Medical System in December, agreed Feb. 7 to pay the state and federal governments $4.9 million to settle allegations that the hospital overbilled Medicare and Medicaid programs through unnecessary “short stay” admittance.
According to a statement from CHI, St. Joseph agreed to the settlement to avoid “the expense and uncertainty of litigation.” It did not admit liability.
Under the terms of sale, Catholic Health Initiatives retains St. Joseph’s liabilities prior to Dec. 1, 2012. The hospital is now known as University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center.
CHI’s statement said that St. Joseph discovered the unnecessary admissions of two days or less during a routine, self-commissioned audit. The stays in question dated from October 2007 to October 2009. In June 2010, the hospital submitted a voluntary self-disclosure to the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, the settlement resolves the hospital’s civil liability to the United States under the False Claims Act. Of the settlement, $4.75 million will go to the United States and $152,406 will go to the State of Maryland.
“Medical providers drain the resources of federal and state health care programs when they bill the government for unneeded medical procedures,” Rod Rosenstein, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, said in a statement.
According to CHI, the short-stay admissions settlement is not related to St. Joseph’s 2010 payment of $22 million to settle allegations that its cardiologist Dr. Mark Midei unnecessarily implanted heart stents in order to receive Medicare payments.
The University of Maryland Medical System deferred comments to CHI.
Feb. 8, 2013 CatholicReview.org