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Hospital Fraud Case Breaks Record

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Halifax Hospital agreed Monday to settle a whistle-blower case by paying an amount so large it breaks previous records for hospital systems accused of Medicare fraud.

The Daytona Beach hospital system reached agreement with the U.S. Justice Department just before prospective jurors were about to be questioned, the Orlando Sentinel reports. It quoted unnamed sources as saying the amount was $85 million, which if true is more than twice the previous record, according to the non-profit group Taxpayers Against Fraud.

And that is just the first part of the fraud case, which alleged that for a decade Halifax paid kickbacks to cancer specialists and neurosurgeons in exchange for funneling their patients into the hospital -- a violation of what is called the Stark Law. Halifax denied the accusation. 

Still pending is the second half of the case, in which the government is not a party. It alleges that Halifax  admitted patients who didn't need inpatient care solely to make money. That trial is months away.

Whistleblower Elin Baklid-Kunz, a former compliance officer for the hospital, filed her suit in 2009. She stands to recoup 15 percent or more of the proceeds.

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.