Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Illinois has agreed to make restitution to the federal government for improper payments to the hospital from federal health insurance programs. For five years or more, the 283-bed Condell facility made improper loans to physicians, entered into leases with doctors that were below fair market value and made payments to doctors who treated patients without the required written agreements. These practices violated federal laws that prohibit hospitals from paying doctors to refer their patients to a particular facility. When a hospital leases space to a doctor at below fair market value, for example, it can be seen as an enticement for the physician to refer patients to the hospital giving the doctor a deal on rent.

Condell’s practices resulted in millions of improper payments from Medicare and Medicaid to the hospital. The announced settlement requires Condell to pay the federal government a hefty amount to resolve the claims associated with those two health programs. Still, by coming forward with the information on its own, Condell was able to avoid a lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act and to negotiate a settlement at a discounted rate. Under the False Claims Act, the hospital could have been required to reimburse the government at triple the amount owed and pay additional penalties.

For the full story, go to the Chicago Tribune.