The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached 70 settlements involving 457 hospitals in 43 states for more than $250 million related to cardiac devices that were implanted in Medicare patients in violation of Medicare coverage requirements.
“The settlements announced today demonstrate the Department of Justice’s commitment to protect Medicare dollars and federal health benefits,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida. “Guided by a panel of leading cardiologists and the review of thousands of patients’ charts, the extensive investigation behind the settlements was heavily influenced by evidence-based medicine. In terms of the number of defendants, this is one of the largest whistleblower lawsuits in the United States and represents one of this office’s most significant recoveries to date. Our office will continue to vigilantly protect the Medicare program from potential false billing claims.”
“While recognizing and respecting physician judgment, the department will hold accountable hospitals and health systems for procedures performed by physicians at their facilities that fail to comply with Medicare billing rules,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We are confident that the settlements announced today will lead to increased compliance and result in significant savings to the Medicare program while protecting patient health.”
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD, is an electronic device that is implanted near and connected to the heart. It detects and treats chaotic, extremely fast, life-threatening heart rhythms, called fibrillations, by delivering a shock to the heart, restoring the heart’s normal rhythm. It is similar in function to an external defibrillator (often found in offices and other buildings) except that it is small enough to be implanted in a patient’s chest. Only patients with certain clinical characteristics and risk factors qualify for an ICD covered by Medicare.
The DOJ press release is available at http://www.justice.gov/usao-sdfl/pr/nearly-500-hospitals-pay-united-states-more-250-million-resolve-false-claims-act