COLUMBIA, S.C. (Legal Newsline) — The Department of Justice announced that the Lexington County Health Services District Inc., which does business as Lexington Medical Center, will pay $17 million after allegations it violated the Physician Self-Referral Law (The Stark Law) and the False Claims Act.
The Stark Law was enacted to ensure physician referrals are based on patient need rather than financial arrangements. The law therefore forbids hospitals from billing Medicare for services referred by physicians who have a financial relationship with the hospital. DOJ stated that Lexington Medical Center maintained improper financial arrangements with 28 physicians.
“This case demonstrates the United States’ commitment to ensuring that doctors who refer Medicare beneficiaries to hospitals for procedures, tests and other health services do so only because they believe the service is in the patient’s best interest, and not because the physician stands to gain financially from the referral,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said.
In addition to the monetary settlement, Lexington Medical Center will enter a Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) with the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG). Under the arrangement, the center must develop measures to avoid or detect similar conduct in the future.