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Abington Memorial Hospital to pay nearly $500,000 claim for alleged improper Medicare reimbursement

Its affiliated home care agency had submitted claim forms on which an employee had essentially cut-and-pasted the required physician signatures.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Abington Hospital, Jefferson Health in Abington, Pennsylvania (Google Earth)Abington Hospital, Jefferson Health in Abington, Pennsylvania (Google Earth)

Pennsylvania-based Abington Memorial Hospital, also known as Abington Hospital - Jefferson Health, has agreed to pay the federal government $491,672 after it was alleged that an employee there forged physician signatures on forms submitted to the Medicare program for home care services.

The physicians'' signatures need to be genuine for such claims to be reimbursed by Medicare.

In June 2016, AMH told the government that during a period beginning in May 2014, its affiliated home care agency, Jefferson Abington Health Home Care and Hospice, had submitted claim forms on which an employee had essentially cut-and-pasted the required physician signatures. In turn, the claim forms lacked legitimate physician authorization.

In addition to reporting the conduct, AMH reversed any claims to Medicare that were within one year of billing, and repaid the money received in reimbursement for those claims. The hospital said it has also taken measures to prevent a similar incident from occurring again.

Those measures include terminating the employee responsible, and installing a computer program that requires physicians' electronic signatures, eliminating the need for AMH to obtain physical signatures.

Acting U.S. Attorney LOuis D. Lappen commended the hospital in a statement for disclosing its findings and implementing corrective measures.

"If health providers wish to be reimbursed with taxpayer funds, they must follow the rules and ensure that the services they provided were properly authorized and documented," he said.

Twitter: @JELagasse

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