Corporate Compliance

DOJ joins whistleblower suit against Cincinnati hospital

Compliance Monitor, April 9, 2008

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has joined a whistleblower lawsuit accusing Christ Hospital, The Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati, and The Ohio Heart Health Center of rewarding physicians for referring business or generating revenue for The Christ Hospital, according to a DOJ press release.

Between 1999 and 2004, Christ Hospital allegedly allocated time for cardiologists at an outpatient cardiology testing unit within the hospital known as the Heart Station based on how much revenue the cardiologist or cardiology group generated for the hospital during the previous year. The cardiologists allegedly benefited by gaining access to heart patients who did not have a regular cardiologist.

Many of the procedures were billed to and paid by Medicare and Medicaid. The Anti-kickback Statute makes it illegal to provide physicians with financial incentives in exchange for patient referrals. The DOJ alleges the scheduling gave area cardiologists an incentive to perform certain cardiac procedures at Christ Hospital.

Ohio Heart physicians staffed the Heart Station approximately half of the time, but generated three-quarters of the center’s revenue, according to a Cincinnati Enquirer article.

The Christ Hospital is currently withdrawing from the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati. Ohio Heart is the largest cardiology group in the Cincinnati area.

 

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