Halifax Hospital Medical Center and Halifax Staffing, Inc. (collectively, “Halifax”) have agreed to pay $85 million to settle allegations that Halifax compensated a group of physicians in a manner not permitted by the Stark Law, including that three neurosurgeons were allegedly paid in excess of fair market value and that six oncologists allegedly received bonuses based on the oncology department’s operating volume. The parties announced the settlement to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida last Monday, March 3, just minutes before jury selection was scheduled to get underway, and filed a copy of the final settlement agreement today. Pursuant to the terms of the settlement agreement, Halifax must pay the settlement amount by March 20, 2014, and enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the HHS OIG. The Relator will receive 24.5% of the settlement amount—or approximately $21 million—from the United States upon receipt of payment by Halifax.
A separate trial focusing on allegations that Halifax engaged in a decade-long practice of admitting patients to the hospital for unnecessary short-stays, and then billing federal healthcare programs for such admissions, is slated to begin in July. The Department of Justice has not intervened in this second portion of the case. For prior coverage of the Halifax case in Health Headlines, please click here and here.