St. Joseph's Medical Center in Towson, MD has agreed to pay $22 million to settle accusations of paying kickbacks involving a Pikesville, MD cardiology practice, and allowing a doctor to place medically unnecessary stents in patients covered by a federal program, the Department of Justice has announced.
The charges were filed under the federal False Claims Act and the Stark Law against MidAtlantic Cardiovascular Associates (MACVA).
According to a federal release, St. Joseph's made payments to MidAtlantic, "under the guise of professional services agreements," and in exchange MidAtlantic referred back to the medical center patients for "lucrative" cardiovascular cases, including cardiac surgery and interventional cardiology procedures between Jan. 1, 1996, to Jan. 1, 2006.
"Kickbacks for medical services undermine the integrity of our health care system," says Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. "When hospitals put their own financial interests ahead of the best interests of patients, we will take action."
The payment settles federal accusations that the hospital received federal health benefit program funds for medically unnecessary stents performed by Mark Midei, MD, a one-time MACVA partner, who was later employed by SJMC. Midei was alleged to have placed the stents between Jan. 1, 2008 and May 12, 2009.