April 10, 2012 / 3:20 PM / in 7 years

Tenet to pay almost $43 million to settle false claims

Trevor Fetter, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Tenet Healthcare Corporation, speaks at the Reuters Health Summit in New York, November 10, 2009. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Tenet Healthcare Corp has agreed to pay almost $43 million to settle allegations that it overbilled the federal Medicare healthcare program for treating patients at certain rehabilitation facilities, the Justice Department said on Tuesday.

The company was accused of improperly billing Medicare between May 2005 and December 2007 for treating people at inpatient rehabilitation facilities when they did not qualify for such an admission, the Justice Department said.

Tenet agreed to $42.75 million to resolve the allegations, which were made under the U.S. False Claims Act. Medicare is the federal healthcare program for the elderly.

The hospital operator said that during a 2007 internal review, its compliance department identified the overpayments at a rehabilitation unit at a Georgia hospital where patients could have been treated at a lower level of care.

The company said it notified federal officials of the situation at the Georgia facility and the settlement announced on Tuesday was a result of those discussions.

Tenet has eight such inpatient facilities.

Tenet shares were down 10 cents, or 2 percent, to $5.01 in mid-morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reporting By Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by Bill Trott

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