Parent Company For Lutheran Hospital Pays Hefty Sum To Settle Billing Lawsuits

By Jeff Neumeyer

August 5, 2014 Updated Aug 5, 2014 at 5:17 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21ALIVE) --- The parent company for Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne paid nearly $100-million to settle lawsuits alleging the company intentionally billed the government for more costly forms of care than necessary.

One of the lawsuits involved our local hospital.

Community Health Systems is adamant that it did nothing wrong.

But it shelled out a lot of money to take care of allegations that the Department of Justice insists are very serious.

The Justice Department says between 2005 and 2010, Community Health Systems in Tennessee engaged in "...A deliberate, corporate-driven scheme…" at 119 of its hospitals, including Lutheran, to admit Medicare, Medicaid and Department of Defense patients when they could have been treated on an outpatient basis, costing less money.

The former supervisor of case management at Lutheran was a whistleblower in the case.

CHS says it settled to avoid the significant expense and distraction of litigation.

Company CEO Wayne T. Smith says, "The question of when a patient should be admitted to a hospital is, and always has been, a matter of medical judgment by the individual physician responsible for a patient's care. Unfortunately, shifting and ambiguous standards make it difficult for physicians and hospitals to comply with the regulations."

The Justice Department countered, saying, "Charging the government for higher cost inpatient services that patients do not need wastes the country's health care resources.”

Officials from Lutheran Hospital locally said they’re pleased with the settlement, as it means the matter is resolved.

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