[ Monday, January 13, 2003 ]


From ELI's Medical Newswire e-mail newsletter (to sign up for it, go here):

RAPID CITY, SC (Medical Newswire) A recent tangle between the feds, a hospital and a physician group proves the Stark law is no laughing matter.

A South Dakota hospital and physician group will pay a collective $6.5 million to settle a hospital employee's allegations that they violated the Stark physician self-referral law.

Rapid City Regional Hospital in South Dakota will shell out $6 million to put an end to the case, while Oncology Associates will pay another $525,000 to resolve additional Medicare billing matters, the Department of Justice has announced. The Stark law prohibits health care organizations from billing Medicare for services arising from referrals from doctors with whom they have certain kinds of financial relationships.

According to news reports, the allegedly inappropriate dealings in the Rapid City case included the hospital's lease of office space to the physician practice at less than fair market value.

Oncology Associates' part of the settlement resolves allegations that doctors from the practice used the wrong billing code for office visits.

Karen Johnson-Porchardt, who worked at the hospital's Cancer Care Institute, initially filed the case. She'll collect between 15 and 25 percent of the settlement proceeds.

Hospital officials say the facility settled the case to avoid costly litigation, and maintain that no harm was ever done to patients or the Medicare program.

Jeff [11:15 AM]

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