Stark Law Violation Costs Intermountain Healthcare $25 Million
Intermountain Health Care Inc., the largest health system in Utah, agreed to pay the United States $25.5 million to settle Stark Statute and False Claims Act violation claims. The allegations are for “engaging in improper financial relationships with referring physicians,” according to a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Press Release on April 3.
The alleged relationships involved 209 physicians in violation of Stark Statute and included employment agreements where:
- Physicians received bonuses that improperly took into account the value of some of their patient referrals; and
- Office leases and compensation arrangements between Intermountain and referring physicians that violated other requirements of the Stark Statute.
Intermountain Discloses Itself
When Intermountain discovered their wrong doing, it disclosed the issues to the government. The OIG’s special agent in charge of Utah, Gerald Roy said, “I applaud Intermountain for recognizing their liability and coming forward to self-disclose these violations.”
Intermountain is known for a reputation of quality and efficiency of care. In fact, Intermountain’s reputation received accolades from President Barack Obama in a 2009 speech, according to ModernHealthcare.com‘s article, “Intermountain to pay $25.5 million to settle Stark case.” Obama said in the speech, “We have to ask why places like … Intermountain Health in Salt Lake City … can offer high-quality care at costs well below average, but other places in America can’t. We need to identify the best practices across the country, learn from the success, and replicate that success elsewhere.”