Court orders mediation in alleged Fla. Medicare fraud

Federal prosecutors pursuing a multimillion dollar whistleblower lawsuit alleging fraudulent billing of radiation therapy services by multiple healthcare providers in Pensacola, FL, have been ordered to attempt to mediate a settlement, according to an article in the Pensacola News Journal.

The case involves two radiation oncologists, Dr. Gerald Lowrey and Dr. Rod Krentel, and the hospitals and clinics that provided the services: Sacred Heart Health System and the Medical Center Clinic. These providers allegedly violated the federal False Claims Act by submitting 6,450 fraudulent claims totaling $3.5 million between December 2007 and October 2011.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ordered that a mediation conference be held by May 1, 2013, with the goal of bringing a "just, speedy, and inexpensive determination" to the complex case.

The potential damages from the suit could top $75 million, the article noted. Assistant U.S. attorney Ben Beard seeks to recoup triple the $3.5 million in alleged false claims, a penalty of as much as $10,000 for each of the claims, and attorney's fees.

Both hospitals have denied the allegations, and attorneys for all the defendants have filed motions to dismiss the case.

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