Seven Florida hospitals pay false claims settlement

Fourteen hospitals in seven states, including Florida, have agreed to pay the United States more than $12 million to settle allegations that the health care facilities submitted false claims to Medicare.

The settlements resolve allegations that the hospitals overcharged Medicare between 2000 and 2008 when performing kyphoplasty, a minimally-invasive procedure used to treat certain spinal fractures that often are due to osteoporosis. In many cases, the procedures can be performed safely as a less costly outpatient procedure, but the U.S. Department of Justice contended the hospitals performed the procedure on an inpatient basis to increase their Medicare billings, a written statement said.

Four hospitals affiliated with Adventist Health System    /Sunbelt Inc. agreed to a total $3.9 million settlement. They are Florida Hospital Orlando, Florida Hospital-Oceanside in Ormond Beach, Florida Hospital Fish Memorial in Orange City and Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center in Sebring.

The three other Florida hospitals agreeing to the settlement are Gulf Coast Hospital in Fort Myers, which will pay $173,006; Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, $159,572; and Cape Coral Hospital in Cape Coral, $73,279.

A similar settlement was reached with Lakeland Regional Medical Center a year ago.

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