Ohio cardiologist pays $1M in Stark case

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A cardiologist and his medical corporation agreed to pay $1 million to settle charges related to improper compensation from Medicare.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Wheeling, W.Va., said that Devender K. Batra and Belmount Cardiology, where Batra is president, had been under investigation for compensation arrangements between Batra and East Ohio Regional Hospital and Ohio Valley Medical Center. According to U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, Batra and Belmont Cardiology led the hospitals to submit false claims for prohibited referrals for various health services.

The hospitals are part of the Ohio Valley Health Services and Education Corp., which agreed in 2011 to pay $3.8 million after being charged with violating the Stark Act by submitting false claims to Medicare and Medicaid between 2005 and 2010. Batra and Belmount Cardiology are based in St. Clairsville, Ohio.

The law prohibits a physician from making a referral to an entity for services billed to Medicare or Medicaid if the physician has a financial relationship with the entity.

Ihlenfeld said in a 2011 statement that the compensation arrangements between the hospitals and local physicians were improper and were for a significant amount of reimbursement. “Phase Two of the case involves pursuing the physicians involved and requiring that they return the prohibited payments and pay the statutory penalties,” he added.

As part of the deal, the Ohio Valley Health Services and Education Corp. and hospitals agreed to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

The $1 million settlement, reached on April 17, closes the investigation.