(Adds details of settlement)
WASHINGTON Oct 3 U.S. hospital chain Tenet
Healthcare Corp and two of its Atlanta-area units will
pay more than $513 million to resolve criminal charges and civil
claims relating to a scheme to defraud the United States and pay
kickbacks in exchange for patient referrals, the Justice
Department said on Monday.
Tenet had disclosed in August that it had reached an
agreement in principle on the matter. Tenet shares fell 5
percent, or $1.26, to $21.40 in Monday trading.
The scheme involved primarily undocumented, expectant
mothers who were told at prenatal care clinics that Medicaid
would cover their costs if they gave birth at one of the Tenet
hospitals. The clinics received bribes and kickbacks from the
hospitals and involved about 20,000 women who received Medicaid
benefits, the Justice Department said.
Tenet said in a statement that the conduct in the matter was
"unacceptable" and that it has amended and expanding policies
around referral source arrangements.
Tenet subsidiaries Atlanta Medical Center Inc and North
Fulton Medical Center Inc agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy
to defraud the United States and to pay those healthcare
kickbacks and bribes in plea agreements that remain subject to
court approvals, the department said in a statement.
Tenet agreed to pay $244 million to the federal government,
$122 million to Georgia and $892,125 to South Carolina to
resolve claims. Ralph Williams, a Georgia resident who filed a
whistleblower suit against Tenet, will receive $84 million of
the civil settlement.
(Reporting by Eric Walsh and Caroline Humer; Editing by Bill
Trott and Alan Crosby)