NJ hospital pays $12.5M to settle kickback charges

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Camden-based Cooper Health System will pay $12.5 million to settle federal and state kickback allegations.

Authorities had alleged the hospital violated the False Claims Act by making improper payments to physicians under so-called "consulting" and "compensation" agreements while it was building its cardiology program.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman says such payments require heightened scrutiny because they may be improper if they are based on patient referrals.

Authorities alleged Cooper recruited and paid physicians to serve on its heart institute advisory board from 2004 through 2010. Prosecutors claimed the payments were made to induce doctors to refer patients to Cooper.

Cooper President and CEO John Sheridan Jr. released a statement saying the hospital decided to settle the dispute without admitting any wrongdoing to avoid potential costs of a drawn-out lawsuit.

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