WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced April 12 that Banner Health will pay more than $18 million after allegations that 12 of its hospitals in Arizona and Colorado admitted patients who could have used outpatient facilities instead—a violation of the False Claims Act.

“Taxpayers should not bear the burden of inpatient services that patients do not need,” acting assistant attorney General Chad A. Readler for the Justice Department’s Civil Division said in a statement. “The department will continue its efforts to stop abuses of the nation’s health care resources and to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate care.”

According to the Justice Department, Banner Health hospitals billed Medicare for short-stay patients between Nov. 1, 2007 and Dec. 31, 2016. Many of these patients allegedly could have been billed on a less costly outpatient basis. 

“This enforcement action is another example of this office’s commitment to protecting the Medicare program,” Elizabeth A. Strange, first assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona, said in a statement. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office, working with our law enforcement partners, will continue to protect Medicare by aggressively pursuing False Claims Act allegations of wrongdoing in the health care industry.”

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