One of the nation's largest private hospital chains has reached a settlement in a health care fraud investigation.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday that Nashville-based Hospital Corporation of America has agreed to pay $16.5 million.
HCA will make the payment to settle allegations it violated federal law, which was designed to protect government funded programs like Medicaid and TennCare.
The Department of Justice said HCA entered into a series of financial transactions with a physician group, Diagnostic Associates of Chattanooga, through which it provided financial benefits intended to induce the physician members of Diagnostic to refer patients to HCA facilities.
"Today's settlement is the third since 2005 involving violations by hospitals in Chattanooga of the Ethics in Patient Referrals and False Claims Acts and reflects the Justice Department's continued determination to enforce these laws to protect both patients and the Medicare and Medicaid trust funds," said U.S. Attorney William Killian.
Killian said settlement resulted from an investigation sparked by a whistleblower complaint filed in 2008.
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