Westchester Medical Center will pay $7 million to settle fraud charges that the hospital knowingly submitted poorly documented mental-health services claims for almost a decade, The Journal News/Lohud.com reports today.
The Valhalla hospital also agreed to return millions of dollars in payments it received from Medicaid, a health-care program for the poor and disabled, as a result of improperly documented claims, the U.S. Justice Department announced yesterday. The agency’s complaint alleges the fraud took place between August 2001 and June 2010, during which time Westchester Medical Center billed Medicaid millions of dollars for outpatient mental-health services even though it had been warned there were problems with the bills.
“We have absolutely no tolerance for those who fail to comply with the program, particularly in these lean times when budgets are stretched thin and belts are being tightened,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
Westchester Medical Center said in a statement that the settlement relates to “technical deficiencies” and does not reflect the quality of care it provides.
“The Behavioral Health Center exhaustively audited and improved the documentation practices of its clinicians more than two years ago, when these issues first came to light, followed by a voluntary self-disclosure to the state,” the statement said.
The Justice Department said the hospital didn’t take action to correct the bills until a 2010 audit by the state Office of Medicaid Inspector General.