2 Washington state hospitals agree to settle allegations

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TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Two hospitals in Washington state are among 32 in 15 states agreeing to make payments to settle allegations that they submitted false claims to the federal Medicare program for a type of procedure.

The News Tribune reports that MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital agreed to pay $938,000 and that Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane will pay $906,000.

According to the Justice Department, the settlements announced Friday are the latest to resolve allegations of hospital mischarges for kyphoplasty procedures. That’s a minimally-invasive procedure used to treat certain spinal fractures that often are due to osteoporosis.

The department said whistleblowers’ lawsuits alleged hospitals increased their Medicare billings by charging for the procedures on an inpatient basis, rather than on an outpatient basis.

MultiCare admitted no wrongdoing but says it settled to avoid litigation costs.

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