The U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia announced a settlement between taxpayers and Aria Health Systems surrounding procedures feds called "unnecessary" and "invasive."
The wrinkle in this story is that Aria wasn't caught doing something wrong. Instead, they self-reported the irregularities after receiving complaints about one physician at the health system's Torresdale campus.
"Aria became aware of certain complaints regarding the cardiologist in Jan. 2013," the federal government explained. "They hired an independent review organization that reviewed the medical treatment for some of his patients. As a result of the review, the doctor agreed to cease performing invasive cardiac procedures at the end of Feb. 2013."
The doctor later agreed to terminate his employment with Aria in April 2013, according to the feds.
Basically, the allegations stated that the doctor was performing what the government called "unnecessary" and "invasive" procedures and getting paid for those acts. Specifically, authorities claimed the physician in question received $1.4 million in annual compensation for his work – a salary the government called "outside the fair market value."
The procedures in question took place between Oct. 2012 and April 2013.
The federal False Claims Act and the Stark Act "require that physicians be paid salaries that are no more than fair market value," the feds explained.
Aria agreed to pay taxpayers $564,700 to settle the matter regarding the surgeon.
"Patients have a right to medical treatment that is ethical and necessary and not influenced by a physician's strategy to increase his compensation," said U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger. "In this case, Aria recognized a problem, reported it to the government and voluntarily made internal changes its operations."