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Health Inc.

Hospitals Hit For Overcharging Medicare For Back Treatment

Whistleblowers don't just snitch on drugmakers.

Today we learned that nine hospitals in seven states agreed to settle charges they billed the government too much for treating patients with back trouble.

The hospitals allegedly overcharged Medicare by keeping patients overnight when they could have been cared for just as well and less expensively as outpatients. The Justice Department said the hospitals would pay the government more than $9.4 million to settle the charges.

At issue is a procedure called kyphoplasty that uses glue to restore bones in the spine that have shrunk and broken due to osteoporosis.

Two former employees of device maker Kyphon, now part of Medtronic, will get about $1.5 million for helping the government make its case. Two years ago, Medtronic paid $75 million to settle related charges of Medicare fraud.

Other hospitals have previously settled similar charges, also aided by the info from the insiders.