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Feds want $400 million more from HCA

The United States Justice Department has dropped the other shoe in its case against HCA - The Healthcare Co. by filing civil complaints in eight whistle-blower lawsuits. U.S. attorneys charge that HCA still owes more than $400 million in fraudulent Medicare claims that were not covered by the $840 million partial settlement the hospital giant reached with the government last year.

The newest complaints, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on March 16, 2001, allege HCA also engaged in a separate scheme to "systematically and unlawfully" make claims from Medicare, Medicaid, and other federally funded health care programs.

U.S. attorneys charge HCA still owes more than $400 million in fraudulent Medicare claims.

Last year's pact between the Justice Department and HCA, formerly known as Columbia-HCA Healthcare Corp., partially settled allegations that HCA was involved in kickbacks to physicians to increase the numbers of government-insured patients and to inflate hospital cost reports to increase Medicare and other government reimbursements. As part of that settlement, HCA admitted no wrongdoing.

The latest complaints do not introduce any new suits or new legal theories, according to a HCA statement. "The company has, for the past several years, been in good faith discussions with the government about a reasonable and fair resolution of these matters," it says.


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