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UF Health Settles Case for $26M

University of Florida Health -- the parent organization for a cluster of hospitals formerly called  Shands Healthcare -- has agreed to pay $26 million to settle a whistleblower case under the False Claims Act, the Florida Times-Union reports.

The government said that from 2003 to 2008, UF-affiliated teaching hospitals in Gainesville and Jacksonville and four smaller Shands hospitals in north-central Florida knowingly overbilled Medicare, Medicaid and the military insurer Tricare. The Department of Justice said Shands billed procedures as inpatient when they should have been billed under outpatient codes, which pay less.

Hospital officials said they did not knowingly overbill the government and that they reported the mistakes as soon as they were discovered. But by then, an auditor had already contacted the government as a whistleblower.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.