• $85M settlement in Halifax Health case


    VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - Halifax Health has agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement in a major case of fraud. They were accused of putting profits over patients and allowing unnecessary surgeries that left some people crippled.
    It was one of two major cases against the Volusia County hospital system.
    Eunice Murphy, 76, said she can't move much after getting a spinal fusion surgery from Dr. Fredrico Vinas at Halifax Medical Center. She believes the surgery was unnecessary and doesn't agree with the settlement.
    "He should go to jail," said Murphy.
    Murphy said she doesn't think $85 million is enough for what she said happened to her and other patients at the hospital.
    "I played tennis four to five days a week, ice-skated, I skied, I rode my bicycle," said Murphy.
    But attorneys involved in the case believe it shows Halifax was wrong, and they said there's still another lawsuit that could cost the hospital millions more.
    Murphy can't sue now because it's too late under Florida law.
    But a Halifax Health employee , Elin Kunz, and the U.S. Department of Justice did sue.
    They allege that Vinas and other neurosurgeons and cancer doctors routinely performed surgeries and treatments at Halifax on patients who didn't need them. They said the doctors performed those surgeries for profit, then Medicare.
    The trial, that was set to begin Monday, centered on the Stark Law, which keeps doctors from receiving incentives for hospital referrals.
    The government was going after Halifax for more than $500,000, but Monday the hospital and the DOJ reached a settlement in principle.
    An attorney for Kunz said Halifax is expected to pay roughly $85 million plus attorney's fees.
    "Ms. Kunz is very excited. This is vindication for her. Halifax has denied these allegations," said attorney Marlan Wilbanks.
    Murphy said she isn't sure any amount will bring justice.
    "I don't think it's enough for what they did to people," said Murphy.
    Government officials said details of the settlement are still being worked out and the final agreement should be filed in about a week.
    Officials said there is still a possibility that the settlement could fall through and the case could go to trial.

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