St. Joseph Medical Center has agreed to pay $22 million to settle federal claims that it engaged in a decade-long kickback scheme with Pikesville cardiology group MidAtlantic Cardiovascular Associates, which was co-founded by Dr. Mark G. Midei - the cardiologist accused of performing hundreds of unwarranted medical procedures at the Towson hospital. Included in the settlement, which was announced Tuesday by the Maryland U.S. attorney's office, is the repayment of federal funds that St. Joseph received for "medically unnecessary" coronary stents placed by Midei after he had left MidAtlantic to become a full-time St. Joseph employee with a seven-figure salary.In a statement, St. Joseph said it "reached the agreement without admitting liability in order to avoid the expense and uncertainty of litigation and to allow the medical center to move forward." MidAtlantic, the region's premier cardiology practice, did not respond to a request for comment. St. Joseph was accused of paying MidAtlantic kickbacks - disguised as payments for services - in exchange for patient referrals for "lucrative cardiovascular procedures" from 1996 to 2006, when Midei was a partner there, according to the 17-page settlement agreement. St. Joseph also "submitted false claims for medically unnecessary stent procedures performed by Dr. Mark Midei," the document states. "Kickbacks give doctors an incentive to pursue unnecessary treatments that are costly and sometimes even dangerous to patients," Rod J. Rosenstein, U. S. attorney for the District of Maryland, said in a statement. His office declined to say how much of the settlement relates to unnecessary stent procedures.
Jed Kirschbaum, Baltimore Sun