Hospital, cardiology practice settle lawsuit for $20.7M after alleged referral scam

A hospital and a cardiology practice in Erie, Pennsylvania, have agreed to pay the U.S. government a $20.7 million settlement after a lawsuit alleged the hospital paid the physician-owned practice millions of dollars for referrals for heart procedures.

The settlement money from UPMC Hamot and Medicor Associates Inc. will partially offset Medicare’s loss, estimated at more than $50 million. Cardiologist Tullio Emanuele filed the lawsuit in 2010 and is entitled to a share of the settlement as a whistleblower, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“This is an example of the sweetheart deals between hospitals and physicians that undermine patient confidence and drive up health care costs for everybody,” Andrew Stone, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, told the Post-Gazette.

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