CA Health System to Pay $46 Million to Resolve Whistleblower Suit

Sutter Health, a Sacramento, CA-based health system, announced the resolution of a whistleblower lawsuit regarding unbundling and over-billing schemes for anesthesia services provided.  The 2009 lawsuit was brought against Sutter by billing auditor, Rockville Recovery Associates. The commissioner joined suit in 2011. A trial in Sacramento Superior Court was scheduled to commence later this month.

According to California Insurance Commissioner, Dave Jones, “Sutter patients or their insurers received three separate charges relating to anesthesia including a charge by an outside anesthesiologist, a charge for the operating room and a charge under an obscure code…” “Unbundling” is the practice of submitting bills piecemeal or in a fragmented fashion to maximize the reimbursement for various tests or procedures that are required, pursuant to Medicare and Medicaid guidelines, to be billed together and therefore at a reduced cost.  According to the suit, the services billed were allegedly already captured in an operating room charge.                                                                                                                     Pharmaceutical Layoffs

In touting the settlement, Commissioner Jones stated, “this settlement represents a groundbreaking step in opening up hospital billing to public scrutiny.” “The settlement requires Sutter to disclose on its Website every component of its anesthesia billing and what those services cost Sutter. Patients, insurers and the public will now be able to compare Sutter’s costs to what it charges for anesthesia. They will see any mark-ups. I commend Sutter for agreeing to these reforms and this settlement. This new transparency should lead to lower prices and point the way to similar billing reforms for all types of hospital services.”  California’s complete press release may be viewed in its entirety here.

“Unbundling” is a frequently utilized tactic by government health care fraud offenders.  An unbundling scheme simply allows a health care provider, or in this case, a health care system, to fraudulently maximize its reimbursement amount by billing the tests and/or procedures separately rather than properly accounting for the test and/or procedures under the single group billing code.

If you are aware of an unbundling scheme, or believe you are a victim of unbundling, contact Young Law Group for a free confidential consultation.

Young Law Group is a nationwide leader in whistleblower representation and has successfully represented individuals in countless qui tam cases for over a decade.  Young Law Group attorneys represented whistleblowers in two of the largest False Claims Act settlements in history.  Our firm takes every inquiry seriously and considers confidentiality a top priority.    For a free confidential consultation, please call Eric L. Young, Esquire at (215) 367-5151 or email to eyoung@young-lawgroup.com.