Halifax Hospital agreed to pay a record-setting $85 million to settle part of a whistleblower case pending against the company. The James Hoyer Law Firm serves as local counsel in the case, along side the Wilbanks & Bridges Law Firm in Atlanta. As reported in the Orlando Sentinel, the lawsuit alleges Medicare fraud and more than a decade of illegal kickbacks to doctors.
The “agreement in principle” requires that Halifax pay the settlement amount over a period of five years.
In addition, Halifax must agree to a corporate integrity and compliance program “to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen in the future,” said the court transcript.
The lawsuit was first filed in 2009 by Halifax Health employee Elin Baklid-Kunz, a former compliance officer for the 678-bed Daytona Beach hospital, where she is still employed.
The suit was filed under the federal False Claims Act which allows private citizens to file suit on behalf of taxpayers, when fraud against the government is suspected. As a result, the bulk of the $85 million will be returned to the public coffers. Baklid-Kunz will receive 15 percent to 25 percent of the award, for bringing the fraud to the government’s attention, as provided under the qui tam provision of the False Claims Act.
The second part of this case is slated to go to trial in July. Those charges involve allegations that Halifax Hospital inappropriately admitted patients to their emergency room and then billed Medicare and Medicaid for their care. That portion of the case could result in damages and penalties of up to $400 million.
UPDATE: Halifax agreed to settle the second portion of the case for $1 million in July of 2014.
Click on the video below to watch a report by WFTV in Orlando about the settlement.