The United States Government has elected to intervene in a False Claims Act lawsuit against IPC The Hospitalist Co., Inc. and its subsidiaries (IPC) according to a DoJ press release. IPC is one of the nation’s largest providers of hospitalist services. The lawsuit was filed by Dr. Bijan Oughatiyan, a former IPC physician, under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which allows private individuals to sue on behalf of the government for any false claims and to share in any recovery. The case alleges that IPC physicians sought payment for higher and more expensive levels of medical services than were actually performed, a practice called “upcoding.” Oughatiyan alleges that IPC encouraged its physicians to bill at the highest levels regardless of the level of service actually provided and trained physicians to use higher level codes.
The Government has requested 120 days from the U.S. District Court in Chicago to file its own complaint. “We continue to be vigilant in our enforcement efforts to ensure that health care programs funded by the taxpayers pay only for appropriate costs,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery.
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