Rush University Medical Center has agreed to pay $1,547,200 plus interest to resolve allegations that the facility violated the False Claims Act, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced March 9, 2010. Rush is alleged to have submitted false claims to Medicare during the period 2000 through 2007 by entering into certain leasing arrangements for office space with two individual physicians and three physician practice groups that violated the Stark Law. Office space leased to a referring physician may be considered proper under the Stark Statute, but only if the rent over the term of the lease is consistent with fair market value and is not determined in a way that takes into account the volume or value of referrals or other business generated between the parties. The “Stark Statute” prohibits a hospital (or other entity providing healthcare items or services) from submitting Medicare claims for payment based on patient referrals from physicians having an improper “financial relationship” (as defined in the statute) with the hospital. Rush is one of several defendants in a suit brought in 2004 by two individuals under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act.
For the full press release, go to: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/March/10-civ-240.html. For more information about qui tam law and Medicare fraud, contact Nolan and Auerbach, PA.