Tenet Healthcare Corporation, a major U.S. hospital chaint, and two of its Atlanta-area subsidiaries will pay over $513 million to resolve criminal charges and civil claims relating to a scheme to defraud the United States and to pay kickbacks in exchange for patient referrals.
In addition, two Tenet subsidiaries, Atlanta Medical Center Inc. and North Fulton Medical Center Inc., have agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay health care kickbacks and bribes in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS). The plea agreements remain subject to acceptance by the court. Up until April 2016, Atlanta Medical Center Inc. and North Fulton Medical Center Inc. owned and operated acute-care hospitals located in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area.
Atlanta Medical Center Inc. and North Fulton Medical Center Inc. were charged in a criminal information filed Monday in federal court in Atlanta with conspiracy to defraud the United STates by obstructing the lawful government functions of HHS and to violate the AKS, which, among other others, prohibits payments to induce the referral of patients for services paid for by federal health care programs. The two Tenet subsidiaries have agreed to plead guilty to the charges alleged in the criminal information and will forfeit over $145 million to the United States – which represents the amount paid to Atlanta Medical Center Inc. and North Fulton Medical Center Inc. by the Medicare and Georgie Medicaid programs for services provided to patients referred as part of the scheme.
Tenet Health System Medical Inc. and its subsidiaries (collectively THSM) entered into a non-prosecution agreement (NPA) with the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia related to the charges in the criminal information. THSM is the parent company of Atlanta Medical Center Inc., North Fulton Medical Center Inc., Spalding Regional Medical Center Inc. and Hilton Head Hospital, and employed their executives. THSM is a subsidiary of Tenet Healthcare Corporation. Under the terms of the NPA, THSM and Tenet will avoid prosecution if they, among other requirements, cooperate with the government’s ongoing investigation and enhance their compliance and ethics program and internal controls. Tenet has also agreed to retain an independent compliance monitor to address and reduce the risk of any recurrence of violations of the AKS by any entity owned in whole, or in part, by tenet. The terms of THSM’s and Tenet’s obligations under the NPA is three years, but teh NPA may be extended for up to one year.
In the civil settlement, Tenet agreed to pay $368 million to the federal government, the state of Georgia and the state of South Carolina to resolve claims asserted in United States ex rel. Williams v. Health Mgmt. Assocs., Tenet Healthcare, et al., a lawsuit filed by Ralph D. Williams, a Georgia resident, in the Middle District of Georgia, under the federal and Georgia False Claims Acts. The acts permit whistle blowers to file suit for false claims against the government entities and to share in any recovery. The federal share of the civil settlement is $244.277.535.30, the state of Georgia will recover $122,880,339.70.