Fourteen Florida hospitals have reportedly agreed to pay about $11 million to settle charges of Medicare fraud in a whistleblower case involving a back procedure called "kyphoplasty."
The settlement announced on Tuesday involved 55 hospitals in 21 states, according to the law firm that brought the case, Washington, D.C.-based Phillips & Cohen. The government so far has recovered more than $74 million from more than 100 hospitals, the firm said.
Kyphoplasty, often used in osteoporosis treatment, involves separating the spinal vertebrae with a balloon-type device and then pumping in cement to prevent recompression. The lawsuit was filed in 2008 in federal district court in Buffalo, N.Y., by two former employees of Kyphon, which sold equipment and materials. The company was later sold to Medtronic.
The procedure can be done on an outpatient basis, but the hospitals involved in the suit were billing it as inpatient care, according to the law firm.
One of the Florida hospitals was Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, which paid $1.84 million.
A number of HCA hospitals in Florida were included in that corporation's $7.14 million settlement. They were listed as:
- Aventura Hospital & Medical Center.
- Capital Regional Medical Center, Tallahassee.
- Doctors Hospital of Sarasota.
- Fawcett Memorial Hospital, Port Charlotte.
- Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, part of HCA settlement.
- JFK Medical Center, Atlantis, part of HCA settlement.
- North Florida Regional Medical Center, Gainesville, FL
- North Florida Regional Medical Center, Gainesville.
- Southwest Florida Regional Medical Center, Fort Myers.
- St. Lucie Medical Center, Port Saint Lucie.
Another group of hospitals that settled were those in the Morton Plant Mease group, part of Baycare Health System in Tampa Bay. They include Mease Hospital Countryside in Safety Harbor, Mease-Dunedin, Morton Plant-Clearwater, Morton Plant-North Bay in New Port Richey.
The Morton Plant-Mease settlement was listed as $2.37 million.
For more information, see the Phillips & Cohen release.