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Augusta University Medical to refund $2.6M in false medical bills

A Gold Cross ambulance waits outside of the emergency room at Augusta University Medical Center. FILE PHOTO
A Gold Cross ambulance waits outside of the emergency room at Augusta University Medical Center. FILE PHOTO

Augusta University Medical Center has agreed to a $2.625 million settlement with federal investigators after the center submitted false Medicare and Medicaid billing statements in Georgia and South Carolina, U.S. Justice Department officials announced Wednesday.

The center billed the programs for a procedure it classified as a “Belsey Collis.” U.S. Justice Department officials began an investigation in late 2018 because there is no such procedure. A “Collis-Belsey” procedure was developed several decades ago to treat patients with gastroesophageal or acid reflux conditions.

One unidentified employee involved in the billing is no longer with the center, university officials said in an email.

“We have corrected gaps in our policies and procedures to prevent such irregularities from reoccurring,” the university said in a statement. “We want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their willingness to work closely with us to reach this agreement.”

Augusta University officials quickly and fully cooperated in the investigation, Justice Department officials said.

“It is vitally important that we protect our government funded health care programs against fraud of any kind,” Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, said in a statement. “This case is an example of the cooperative investigative efforts of federal and state partners to make sure monies from these important programs are directed only to legitimate claims.”

The center will refund both states as part of the settlement.