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Lakeland Regional Medical Center Agrees to $4M Settlement Over Non-bona fide donations

Analysis  |  By Amanda Schiavo  
   March 07, 2023

The government accused the healthcare provider of making improper donations.

Lakeland Regional Medical Center, a Lakeland, Florida-based healthcare provider with over $4 billion in total revenue, has agreed to pay the U.S. government $4 million to settle allegations the organization made donations to a local unit of government to improperly fund the state’s share of Medicaid payments to Lakeland Regional Medical Center.

The government alleged that between October 2014 and September 2015, Lakeland Regional Medical Center made "improper, non-bona fide donations" to Polk County, Florida by assuming and paying some of the county’s financial obligations to other healthcare providers. The government alleges that this was intended to free up funds that would allow the county to make payments to the State as the state’s share of Medicaid payments to Lakeland Regional Medical Center. This was an alleged attempt to increase the Medicaid payments the provider received.

"When private parties make improper donations to fund the state share of Medicaid, they undermine a key safeguard for ensuring the integrity of the Medicaid program," Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said in a statement. "Medicaid expenditures should be determined by beneficiaries’ medical needs rather than by donations by private hospitals to local units of government."

The government says the Medicaid payments received by Lakeland Regional Medical Center were funded by the federal government and the organization’s own donations. This violated the prohibition on non-bona fide donations, according to the DOJ statement.

"Protecting the Medicaid program is crucial, as millions of Floridians rely on it for their medical care and related services," U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg for the Middle District of Florida, said in the statement. "We are committed to ensuring that government funds are used for their intended purposes and are not improperly obtained."

Amanda Schiavo is the Finance Editor for HealthLeaders.

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