TALLAHASSEE – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Attorney General…

TALLAHASSEE – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced a multimillion dollar settlement with Tenet Healthcare Corporation, resolving allegations that the company falsely inflated its hospitals’ charges from 2000 to 2003 to obtain reimbursements from a Medicare fund. The agreement brings to a close a federal court lawsuit alleging that Tenet violated the federal and Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Acts, as well as other investigations of Tenet by Crist’s office, including two Medicaid billing cases. Thirteen Florida public hospitals or hospital systems were part of the lawsuit filed by Crist.

Public hospitals depend on a special Medicare program, known as the Outlier Fund, to obtain reimbursement for expensive procedures whose costs greatly exceed Medicare’s standard reimbursement rates, such as coronary bypass surgery. According to the settled lawsuit, Tenet artificially increased its charges to improperly access a significant portion of the limited monies in the Outlier Fund, thereby preventing Florida public hospitals from obtaining legitimate reimbursement for their expensive procedures.

“This landmark settlement benefits both patients and the taxpayers,”
said Crist. “Florida’s public hospitals will be able to use the funds to provide essential health care for the poor.”

Crist’s office filed the federal Medicare lawsuit last March. Florida is the only state involved in the lawsuit and the settlement.

Under the settlement, Tenet will contribute close to $6 million to be disbursed to the public hospitals according to the level of indigent care and expensive procedures provided by each facility. The list of public hospitals is included below. Tenet will also pay the state approximately $1 million for costs of the investigation.

“We are pleased that Tenet’s new management has committed to take this important first step in moving toward a better future by resolving all past issues. Safeguarding Florida’s health care market is a top priority and I look forward to Tenet now acting responsibly to serve that market,”
said Crist.

“Attorney General Crist’s involvement in this settlement has greatly benefitted the hospitals involved,” said Paul M. Sallarulo, chair of the North Broward Hospital District, one of the public hospital systems involved in the lawsuit. “We are extremely pleased with the resulting agreement and commend Attorney General Crist for his work.”

“I would like to thank Attorney General Crist for his efforts, not only on our behalf, but also on behalf of the uninsured patients of our community who will directly benefit from this settlement,” said Frank V.
Sacco, Chief Executive Officer of Lee Memorial Healthcare System, another affected public hospital.

Tenet is the nation’s second-largest for-profit hospital chain in the United States, owning or operating 71 acute care hospitals with 18,149 licensed beds, including 15 hospitals in Florida. Tenet restructured its management team in November 2002 and changed its Medicare billing practices in January 2003.

A copy of the federal complaint against Tenet is available at:

A copy of the Tenet settlement is available at:

The public hospitals that will benefit from this settlement are:

– Bert Fish Medical Center, Inc. – New Smyrna Beach (Volusia County)
– Cape Memorial Hospital, Inc. – Cape Coral (Lee County)
– Halifax Medical Center – Daytona Beach (Volusia County)
– Hendry County Hospital Authority – Clewiston (Hendry County)
– Holmes County Hospital Corporation – Bonifay (Holmes County)
– Jackson Memorial Hospital – Miami (Miami-Dade County)
– Lee Memorial Healthcare System – Ft. Myers (Lee County)
– North Brevard County Hospital District – Titusville (Brevard County)
– North Broward Hospital District – Ft. Lauderdale (Broward County)
– Sarasota County Public Hospital District – Sarasota (Sarasota County)
– South Broward Hospital District – Hollywood (Broward County)
– The Board of Trustees of Bay Medical Center – Panama City (Bay
– West Orange Healthcare District – Ocoee (Orange County)

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