A whistle-blower accused North Broward Hospital District of violating the Stark law

North Broward Hospital District is the governing and oversight body of Broward Health, which includes five medical centers and hospitals.

A whistle-blower accused North Broward Hospital District of violating the Stark law, governing physician financial relationships, by paying employed doctors at levels beyond the fair market value based, in part, on their referrals to Broward Health hospitals and clinics. That, in turn, led to the submission of false claims to the government, in violation of the False Claims Act, the whistle-blower alleged.  North Broward did not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

The whistle-blower, Fort Lauderdale orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Reilly, originally filed a lawsuit against Broward Health in 2010. Reilly said in court documents that Broward offered to employ him under terms that may have violated the Stark Law, which prohibits physician compensation that creates a financial conflict of interest.

The Stark law has been widely criticized for its complexity. The CMS recently proposed regulatory changes that experts say seem aimed at easing the law’s technical burdens and reducing the numbers of self-disclosures coming to the CMS under the law.