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Sioux City, IA, hospital settles U.S. allegations, December 3, 2009

Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City (IA) has agreed to pay $400,000 to settle allegations that it purposely overcharged federal healthcare programs for the care of heart patients. Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City denied wrongdoing, but it agreed to pay the money to settle the matter. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said this was the first time in Iowa history that a hospital had been prosecuted for overbilling the government under a program that pays extra for particularly expensive procedures. The "outlier" program is meant to encourage healthcare providers to take on unusually complicated cases, and prosecutors accused Mercy of using the arrangement to overcharge Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal programs for the care of heart patients.