Pa. hospital network pay feds $1.5M for kickbacks

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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh say the West Penn Allegheny Health System has agreed to pay more than $1.5 million to settle claims that it violated the law by offering doctors below-market rents so the physicians would refer patients to the network's hospitals.

A spokesman for West Penn says the network planned to release a statement later Wednesday.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton announced the settlement, saying it was the result of a "self-disclosure" by West Penn officials. The allegedly illegal activity began in the mid-2000s, with most of it occurring between 2008 and 2012.

That was before Pittsburgh-based health insurer Highmark Inc. bought the five-hospital West Penn network and created the Allegheny Health Network with two other hospitals it has acquired.

West Penn had experienced financial difficulties before the Highmark takeover.

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