Community Health settles $20 million civil suit

(WTHI Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The United States Attorney announced Tuesday a $20 million civil settlement with Community Health Network.

This settlement is the result of an investigation conducted by several agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to officials, the United States alleged that since the late 1990’s through October 2009, Community Health Network had contracts with surgery centers.

The centers, not owned by Community Health Network, would provide out-patient surgeries.

The U.S. Attorneys offics says Community Health Network would bill Medicare and Medicaid for the surgical services through the billing departments of its hospitals.

U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler says the claims resolved by this settlement are only allegations and there has been no determination of liability.

Community Health Network offered this statement on Tuesday in response to the ruling:

Community Health Network has always been committed to providing the highest-quality care to our patients and to consistently demonstrating that we act with absolute integrity and compassion. This has been the hallmark of our longstanding Network Responsibility and Compliance Program.

The network has entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, regarding a billing matter. The issue involves claims for payment to Medicare and Medicaid programs between January 1, 2006, and October 1, 2009. During that time period and before, the network was open and transparent with the government about its billing method and sought both the government’s guidance and outside advice to ensure that practices were in compliance with regulations.

According to Community Health Network President and CEO Bryan Mills, “We’re very disappointed with the federal government’s characterization of this issue. At most, this was an innocent and unintentional billing error. In fact, we continually reached out for guidance to assure our billing method was appropriate. We are an organization of integrity and have fulfilled our obligation for repayment. In recognition of that fact, the government did not seek any financial penalties beyond the repayment.”

While Community maintains it was fully compliant with government regulations, the network has agreed to refund the U.S. government about $20 million to bring this matter to final resolution and avoid further time and expense. Contrary to published reports, this was the exact amount the government claimed was overpaid for the 2006-2009 time period, and does not include any penalties. In addition, Community has agreed to enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of Inspector General. As a continuation of our commitment to transparency, Community welcomes this oversight, which will further enhance its Network Responsibility and Compliance Program.

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