Tenet Healthcare to pay $66 million to settle whistleblower suit asserting billing Medicare for docs who received kickbacks

Tenet Healthcare Corp. has agreed in principle to pay the federal government about $66 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit alleging it billed public programs for medical services provided by physicians having improper financial relationships with a hospital partly owned by Tenet.

Tenet disclosed the tentative settlement in its recent quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It said it had established a reserve of $68 million for the matter. It anticipated the agreement could be completed as early as the first quarter of 2020. The lawsuit, alleged unlawful conduct by and a conspiracy among a group of Oklahoma orthopedic surgeons, the surgical hospital they created—the Oklahoma Center for Orthopaedic and Multispecialty Surgery in Oklahoma City—and USPI, a Tenet-owned unit that owns a stake in the hospital along with a healthcare system and physicians. The whistleblower was Clinic administrator Wayne Allison claimed the defendants engaged in kickbacks, unlawful compensation and unearned reimbursements. His attorney is Michael Burrage of Oklahoma.

The company said the case is stayed until next month while the parties work to finalize the settlement.

In 2016, Tenet agreed to pay $514 million to settle a whistleblower case claiming two of its former subsidiaries defrauded Medicaid by using referral contracts for translation services to draw pregnant patients to two hospitals in Georgia.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers nationwide.  He can be reached at Jeff@JeffNewmanlaw.com