Arkansas Cardiologist Pays $900K to Settle False Claims Allegations

Interventional cardiologist Jeffrey Tauth, MD, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, has agreed to pay $900,000 to resolve allegations that he submitted claims to Medicare for inserting medically unnecessary cardiac stents, in violation of the False Claims Act.

As part of the settlement, Tauth will enter into an integrity agreement with the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), according to a news release from Henry Leventis, US attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.

“Healthcare fraud is a top priority of this office. We will aggressively pursue all those who are involved in fraud against government programs,” Leventis said.

Tauth formerly treated patients at National Park Medical Center (NPMC) in Hot Springs. The alleged false claims were submitted from September 2013 through August 2019.

The settlement with Tauth, aged 60, follows a November 2019 voluntary disclosure of the alleged false claims by Brentwood, Tennessee-based Lifepoint Health, which acquired NPMC and Hot Springs Cardiology Associates in November 2018.

NPMC and Hot Springs Cardiology entered into a settlement in October 2020 for the alleged violations and agreed to pay roughly $14.6 million, which includes over $9 million in restitution, according to the news release.

In a statement to | Medscape Cardiology, NPMC CEO Scott Smith said NPMC is “committed to maintaining high standards of integrity, legal compliance, and quality care for our patients. We regularly monitor our processes, procedures, and reporting and actively self-report concerns to regulators to ensure we are upholding these standards across our organization.

“We are proud that our hospital took the appropriate steps to promptly self-report and finalize a settlement with the government for a swift resolution more than 2 years ago,” Smith said.

Tauth, however, maintains that the allegations made by NPMC are false.

“I am pleased to have reached a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice regarding allegations brought to them by my former employer, National Park Medical Center,” he said in a statement to | Medscape Cardiology.

“The settlement agreement specifically states that it is not ‘an admission of liability’ by me, and I remain steadfast in my position that the allegations made by my former employer are false and without merit,” Tauth added.

Tauth said he has “chosen to enter into the settlement agreement because the legal process initiated by National Park’s allegations has been emotionally and financially damaging to me and my family in the extreme, and a settlement puts an end to the delays, uncertainties, inconveniences, and expenses of protracted litigation. Settlement is in the best interests of my family, my patients, and my medical practice.”

Tauth said he is “extremely grateful for the support I have received from my patients, medical staff, colleagues, friends, and family during this difficult time, and I look forward to providing high-quality cardiac care in the greater Hot Springs community for many years to come.”

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