The new owner of Cornerstone Hospital of Huntington (CHH) has agreed to pay a significant amount to put an end to a False Claims Act suit filed by two former employees of the West Virginia hospital. Jesse Dick, Jr. was a materials manager at the hospital in 2005 and 2006, and Tamela Bragg was a unit clerk during the same time. The former employees claim in their whistle-blower suit that they attempted to warn hospital officials about improper Medicare billings, but that their protests went unheeded and the two were ultimately fired in retaliation for reporting the misconduct.

Dick claims that CHH overbilled Medicare, charged for unnecessary tests and equipment, and double-billed for tube-feedings—all in an effort to increase revenue. According to Dick, hospital staff were instructed that patients without sufficient insurance were to be kept until they died or until 25 days were up, whichever came first. Bragg, the other whistle-blower, was fired for an “attitude problem” when she questioned the hospital’s irregular billing practices. Under the Qui Tam provisions of the federal False Claims Act, Dick and Bragg will share in the government’s settlement.

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