Halifax Health holds meetings to discuss whistleblower lawsuit

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VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - On Monday officials at Halifax Health explained why the hospital settled a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.
 
Around 50 people gathered at the Riverside Pavilion, in Port Orange, Monday morning for the first of three town hall meetings where Halifax Health officials explained why they settled a whistleblower lawsuit for $85 million.
 
"The purpose was for us to be able to tell our side of the story," said Ann Martorano, chief operating officer for Halifax Health.
 
The first lawsuit was filed in 2009 by whistleblower Elin Kuns. The Department of Justice stepped in and accused Halifax Health of overbilling Medicare for unnecessary hospital stays and argued that contracts by Halifax could lead doctors to perform unnecessary tests and procedures -- a claim the hospital denied in the town hall meeting.
 
"There was no unnecessary care given, and the quality of that care was as it should be, and the government was not harmed in any way or patients," said Martorano.
 
Attorneys for Kuns disagreed. They said Halifax didn't abide by the law and said the hospital confirmed that by paying out $120 million for both settlements and legal fees.
 
"How can they face the Halifax patient community and deny that they have done anything wrong after they have spent over $120 million?" attorney Marlan Wilbanks said.
 
A judge determined Halifax violated the law. Hospital officials said the law is vague.
 
"How can you ensure that you're not going to violate that statute in the future?" Ramos asked Martorano.
 
"I don't know that I can ensure it, because at this point in time there are so many different opinions on what it actually means," said Martorano.