North Broward Hospital District Agrees to Pay United States $69.5 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations
North Broward Hospital District is one of the nation’s largest public hospital systems and this week it became yet another entity in the U.S. to settle a qui tam lawsuit. North Broward Hospital District is a special taxing district of the state of Florida that operates hospitals and other health care facilities in the Broward County, Florida area. Earlier this week the hospital district agreed to pay the United States $69.5 million to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by engaging in improper financial relationships with referring physicians. This agreement marks the largest settlement ever reached without litigation.
This settlement resolves allegations that the hospital district provided compensation to nine employed physicians that exceeded the fair market value of their services. The United States contended that these agreements violated the Stark Statute—which restricts the financial relationships that hospitals may have with doctors who refer patients to them—as well as the False Claims Act.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, had this to say about the settlement: “The Department of Justice has long-standing concerns about improper financial relationships between health care providers and their referral sources, because those relationships can alter a physician’s judgement about the patient’s true health care needs and drive up health care costs for everybody… In addition to yielding a recovery for taxpayers, this settlement should deter similar conduct in the future and help make health care more affordable.”
This settlement stems from a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit filed on behalf of the government by Ft. Lauderdale orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Michael T. Reilly. A whistleblower reward of just over $12 million will be awarded to Dr. Reilly