Steward Health Care System LLC has agreed to pay a $4.7 million settlement to resolve Medicare and Medicaid kickback allegations.
The suit, filed by three whistleblowers in Massachusetts federal court in 2018, had alleged that Steward, a multistate hospital and health care organization, provided payment to specialists for services that weren’t performed and rented space from providers at above-market rates to induce patient referrals.
In the settlement, Steward disclosed that it had “failed to charge the proper rent” on leases it had with approximately 50 physicians, physician organizations, and non-physician organizations, which may have violated anti-kickback statutes or laws around self-referrals. Steward also disclosed that Brockton-based Steward Good Samaritan Medical Center Inc. had a compensation arrangement with a physician for services it couldn’t confirm were performed, and had entered into agreements with Brockton Urology Clinic and Adult & Pediatric Urology Center for services that weren’t provided.
In an e-mailed statement, Steward said it denied violating any referral laws and admitted no wrongdoing
“To be clear, the company cooperated fully with the government investigation, in fact self-reporting two of the three issues raised, and through actions like self-reporting, demonstrated a commitment to the highest standards of compliance and corporate integrity,” the company said. “While Steward admits no wrongdoing, expediently putting this matter behind us now allows the company to focus without distraction on delivering accessible, high-quality healthcare to the local communities and patients it serves every day.”
The whistleblowers will split $725,000 of the settlement amount.
“My role as a physician is to uphold the integrity of the health care system and provide an environment that is committed to the health of our patients,” said Dr. Olivia Lanna, a Massachusetts physician and one of the three whistleblowers in the case. “This settlement will forge a brighter path for health care.”