CHS Says Government Consolidating Probes

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , April 26, 2011

Community Health Systems Inc. has confirmed that it is the subject of "overlapping claims" in several federal investigations that the for-profit hospital chain said could be related to claims that it overbilled Medicare.

In a filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Franklin, TN-based CHS said it was told last Friday that the U.S. Justice Department would intervene in a whistleblower lawsuit filed in Fort Wayne, IN, against CHS and affiliate Lutheran Hospital. 

The Justice Department had previously declined to intervene. However, federal investigators said in a motion filed in U.S District Court in Fort Wayne that their investigations were being "consolidated" and centered around"allegations of improper billing for inpatient care at other hospitals associated with Community Health Systems, Inc...asserted in other qui tam complaints in other jurisdictions," CHS said in its SEC filing.

The federal motion said that investigating agencies that were "closely coordinating" a review of the "overlapping allegations" against CHS include the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, multiple United States Attorneys' offices, and the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services.

In addition, federal officials said in the motion that they are also working with the Texas Attorney General's Office, and with any state prosecutors who are examining CHS, the hospital chain said in its SEC filing.

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