Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs and parent company Tenet Healthcare Corp. agreed to pay $1.41 million to settle allegations that they knowingly charging Medicare for implanting unnecessary cardiac monitors in patients over a 3-year period, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
The settlement stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Michael Grace, a former employee of Desert Regional Medical Center, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals to sue for false claims on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery.
Grace’s share of the settlement is $240,789, according to the Justice Department.
Todd Burke, a Tenet Healthcare spokesman, confirmed the settlement in a prepared statement.
“We have reached an agreement with the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice to settle a qui tam lawsuit for approximately $1.4 million related to a portion of cardiac loop recorder devices implanted from 2014 to 2017 at Desert Regional Medical Center. We stand behind the efforts of our team – our hospital and physicians identified and took steps to address this matter prior to the filing of the lawsuit and remain committed to full compliance with all federal healthcare program requirements,” the statement says.
Medicare only reimburses services and treatments that are reasonable and medically necessary. The settlement resolves allegations that the hospital knowingly charged Medicare for unnecessary cardiac monitors — often called loop recorders — that its cardiologists implanted in beneficiaries from 2014 to 2017.
“Providers that bill for unnecessary services and devices contribute to the soaring cost of health care,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice holds accountable those providers that impose unnecessary treatments upon patients and pass the inflated costs on to federal health care programs.”