Baltimore hospital accused of overbilling for cardiac scans

By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun

Maryland General Hospital has entered into a $750,000 agreement with the federal government to settle claims that it overbilled Medicare and Medicaid for cardiac scans that measure the amount of blood in the heart.

The Baltimore hospital, which is part of the University of Maryland Medical System, is accused of taking single scans and then billing for multiple procedures for a six-year period beginning March 24, 2003, and ending Dec. 23, 2009, according to U.S. District Court documents released Monday.

The settlement also alleges that the hospital failed to immediately pay back the overcharges after they were discovered.

The alleged practices were discovered after Kenneth Creeger, a former senior financial analyst with the hospital, filed a whistle-blower complaint under the False Claims Act. The act allows private citizens to bring civil actions on behalf of the United States and share in any settlement. Creeger will receive $119,728. Maryland General also agreed to pay $31,000 in attorney’s fees to the U.S. attorney.

UMMS said in a statement that it settled to avoid the “uncertainty, inconvenience and expense of protracted litigation” regarding the claims. Maryland General has since implemented an extensive compliance program, the statement said.

As part of the settlement, Maryland General did not admit guilt and federal authorities did not admit their claims were not well founded.

The settlement was a result of an investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Maryland, the Justice Department’s Civil Division and the inspector general of the Department of Health and the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Justice Department says it has recovered more than $14.5 billion in False Claims Act cases since January 2009.

Baltimore Sun reporter Carrie Wells contributed to this article.