Intermountain Healthcare will pay the federal government $25.5 million to resolve self-reported Stark Law and False Claims Act violations for improper financial relationships with referring physicians, the U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday.
Federal officials said in a media release that Intermountain's Stark violations centered on employment agreements that paid physicians bonuses that improperly considered the value of patient referrals, and on improper office leases and other compensation arrangements between Intermountain and referring physicians.
"The Department of Justice has longstanding concerns about improper financial relationships between healthcare providers and their referral sources, because such relationships can corrupt a physician's judgment about the patient's true healthcare needs," Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Department's Civil Division, said in prepared remarks.
"In addition to yielding a recovery for taxpayers, this settlement should deter similar conduct in the future and help make healthcare more affordable for patients."
Intermountain CMO Brent Wallace, MD, said in prepared remarks that the Salt Lake City-based provider and the largest health system in Utah discovered the possible violations in 2009 during its "regular review process" and immediately voluntarily disclosed them to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah for review.