Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Morton Plant Mease hospitals pay $2.4 million to settle federal overbilling claims

CLEARWATER — Four Morton Plant Mease hospitals have agreed to pay the federal government more than $2 million to settle charges that they overbilled Medicare for a procedure used to treat spinal fractures often related to osteoporosis.

The hospitals in the nonprofit BayCare Health System were part of a $34 million settlement announced last week by the U.S. Department of Justice. It involved 55 hospitals nationally, including a dozen in Florida, concerning billing practices for a procedure called kyphoplasty.

In kyphoplasty, a physician uses a balloon and cement material to repair certain spinal fractures. The treatment can usually be done on an outpatient basis. But the hospitals had been billing Medicare for hospital admissions, netting higher payments.

The settlement covered patients treated between 2001 and 2010 at Morton Plant Hospital, Mease Dunedin Hospital, Mease Countryside and Morton Plant North Bay.

Federal officials highlighted the case as an example of their commitment to fighting health care fraud.

"We will not stand by and allow hospitals to inflate their profits based on unnecessary hospital admissions at the expense of the Medicare program or any other federal program," said William J. Hochul, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, in a statement.

Morton Plant Mease officials admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, stemming from a whistle-blower lawsuit filed by two former employees of the company that sold the materials needed to perform kyphoplasty.

Federal officials have now entered into similar deals with more than 100 hospitals charged with overbilling for kyphoplasty.

"We based our decisions on what we believed to be right for our patients, based on information that was available at the time," said Beth Hardy, a spokeswoman for the Morton Plant Mease system, stressing its commitment to complying with the latest federal regulations. "That can be a complex process."

The $2.4 million settlement is the second major false claims settlement in less than a year for BayCare. Last fall, six of its hospitals, including the Morton Plant Mease facilities, agreed to pay more than $10 million to settle allegations of overbilling for cardiac procedures for Medicare patients.

That case similarly focused on billing for hospital admissions that would have been less expensive as outpatients.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this article. Letitia Stein can be reached at lstein@tampabay.com.

Morton Plant Mease hospitals pay $2.4 million to settle federal overbilling claims 07/08/13 [Last modified: Monday, July 8, 2013 11:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: 'The Last Tycoon' is a dazzling adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished work

    Blogs

    There's no business like 1930s show business.

    Matt Bomer is Monroe Stahr in Amazon's The Last Tycoon.
  2. 'Chrisley Knows Best' stars filmed in St. Petersburg

    Blogs

    Keep an eye out for reality TV stars. Members of the Chrisley family from the USA series Chrisley Knows Best were filming in St. Petersburg this week, St. Petersburg-Clearwater film commissioner Tony Armer confirmed today. 

    Todd and Savannah Chrisley in a scene from Season 5 of "Chrisley Knows Best."
  3. Deputies say Wesley Chapel man admitted to having child pornography

    Crime

    WESLEY CHAPEL — A man admitted to possessing child pornography, according to the Pasco Sheriff's Office, after authorities seized several computers, tablets, thumb drives, DVDs and cell phones from his property.

    Jeffrey D. Stanford was arrested on 10 counts of possessing child pornography. [Photo courtesy of Pasco Sheriff's Office]
  4. Scalise discharged from hospital, beginning rehabilitation

    National

    WASHINGTON — House Majority Whip Steve Scalise — who was critically wounded in a shooting at a baseball practice last month — has been discharged from a Washington hospital.

    House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise of La., speaks with the media on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 17, 2017. Scalise, critically wounded in a shooting at a baseball practice last month, has been discharged from a Washington hospital. [Associated Press]
  5. FWC identifies boaters seen dragging shark in viral video

    Wildlife

    Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have identified the individuals shown on a viral video dragging a shark behind a boat on a rope as men laugh each time its body slams the water.

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating a viral video that shows a shark being dragged behind a boat on a rope as men laugh each time its body slams the water. [Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]