Halifax Health and Whistleblower Reach Second Agreement for $1 Million after 5-Year Legal Battle By Tod Aronovitz | 07/30/14 | 0 Comment

According to court documents unsealed on July 11, Halifax Health tentatively settled the second portion of a whistleblower lawsuit for $1 million, which was below earlier estimates. The qui tam suit, which was filed by Elin Baklid-Kunz in Orlando in 2009, accused the public hospital system of ignoring fraud and overcharging Medicare.

An earlier portion of the lawsuit was settled in March for $85 million, as we reported on our ARONOVITZ LAW Blog on March 13. Baklid-Kunz, who is director of physician services at Halifax, accused the hospital of violating the Stark Law which prohibits a hospital from billing Medicare for certain services referred by physicians who have a financial relationship with the hospital. That settlement, which was one of the biggest Stark Law cases ever for a single hospital, resulted in a $20.8 million whistleblower reward to Baklid-Kunz and her counsel.

At the heart of the second part of the lawsuit was whether Halifax overcharged Medicare by billing the government at a higher inpatient rate instead of keeping patients for observation. According to a story in the July 11 Daytona Beach News-Journal, Judge Gregory Presnell ruled on July 1 to lower the damage claim computed by Baklid-Kunz, favoring Halifax’s argument that medical services were still provided even if they were billed at the wrong rate.

Now this latest settlement agreement is in the hands of the federal government, which must review the proposed terms and put forth any objections by July 21. Hospital commissioners plan to meet and discuss the litigation on that date, the article said.

Halifax Health has continually refuted the allegations in the suit. The Justice Department intervened in the first part of the case, but did not join the second half. The remainder of the settlement was placed in the Medicare Trust Fund, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. As part of the agreement, Halifax Health will have to submit to greater federal oversight through a five-year corporate integrity agreement.

How to Report Miami Medicare Fraud

Healthcare professionals or medical billing employees who have knowledge of questionable Medicare billing practices can file a confidential legal claim under the False Claims Act. By acting as a “whistleblower” in what is known as a “qui tam” lawsuit, a private party may collect up to 30 percent of the amount recovered, depending on how the case is prosecuted.

ARONOVITZ LAW: Miami Whistleblower / Qui Tam Law Firm

The Miami Qui Tam law firm of ARONOVITZ LAW routinely works with whistleblowers to document Medicare fraud and other forms of fraud against the government. Contact Miami Whistleblower / Qui Tam lawyer Tod Aronovitz to discuss your case.