Two Kentucky cardiologists agree to pay $380,000 to settle false-billing case

Two London cardiologists have agreed to pay $380,000 to settle a case in which they were accused of being involved in a pervasive false-billing scheme.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced the deal with Satyabrata Chatterjee and Ashwini Anand on Tuesday. A news release said that as part of the deal, the two did not admit liability.

A lawsuit filed in 2011 accused Chatterjee, Anand, St. Joseph-London Hospital and others of taking part in a scheme to perform hundreds of unneeded heart surgeries on patients to get payment from Medicare, Medicaid and other sources.

The government argued that St. Joseph signed sham agreements with Chatterjee and Anand under which they were paid to provide management services, but they didn't provide the services, according to a news release.

In return, the two doctors made an exclusive deal to refer patients from their practice to St. Joseph for cardiology and other procedures, violating federal law because of the financial arrangement between the hospital and doctors, according to the news release.

"Financial relationships between health care providers that put profits over patients are a threat to the programs upon which millions of Americans depend," U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey said.

The amount of the settlement was based on a calculation of the doctors' ability to pay.

The doctors also agreed to greater oversight of their billing to federally funded health care programs for three years.

St. Joseph-London's owner agreed in January to pay $16.5 million to settle the claims against the hospital.

Lexington cardiologists Michael R. Jones, Paula W. Hollingsworth and Michael Rukavina played a key role in blowing the whistle on the alleged overbilling scheme, filing a lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act after seeing problems among patients who had been treated earlier at the London hospital.

The government later joined the ;awsuit.