3 health systems facing Stark law suits in May

Becker's has reported on three health systems in May that have either resolved or are facing Stark law allegations.

Here are the three lawsuits:

1. Pittsburgh-based Penn Highlands Healthcare and several of its hospitals agreed to pay $735,000 to resolve False Claims Act and Stark law infringement allegations. From July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2012, Penn Highlands DuBois allegedly paid improper compensation to medical providers.

2. Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Erlanger Health System is facing kickback scheme allegations from two former executives. The 2021 complaint was filed by former CFO J. Britton Tabor and former chief compliance officer Alana Sullivan, who were let go in 2019 and 2021, respectively. They alleged that Erlanger offered and provided kickbacks and excessive pay, among other incentives, to physicians who referred patients.

3. Pittsburgh-based UPMC agreed to pay $38 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit alleging neurosurgeons employed by the health system submitted false claims.The suit was filed against the health system and 13 staff neurosurgeons in 2012 by former UPMC neurosurgeon William Bookwalter, MD, neurophysiologist Robert Sclabassi, MD, PhD, and surgical technologist Anna Mitina. 

The suit alleged some neurosurgeons submitted claims for purportedly assisting with procedures performed by other surgeons or residents even though they did not assist nor supervise. Additionally, one neurosurgeon allegedly submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare for levels of spinal decompression not performed.

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