Durant's MCSO, former parent company settle False Claims Act federal lawsuit for $1.5M

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DURANT,OK - A local medical center and its parent company have agreed to settle a federal lawsuit for $1.5 million.

The Medical Center of Southeastern Oklahoma was owned by Health Management Associates until HMA was acquired by Community Health Systems in January.

HMA and MCSO were featured in a "60 Minutes" investigation that aired in December of 2012 alleging HMA administrators pressured its doctors to admit more patients to generate more revenue. MCSO denied any wrongdoing when the story aired.

To settle a False Claims Act lawsuit, federal prosecutors announced Friday MCSO and HMA have agreed to pay $1.5 million to the federal and state governments.

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of justice an otolaryngologist listed as Dr. Daniel Castro practiced at MCSO in Durant from 2005 to 2010. Otolaryngologists deal with ear, nose and throat conditions, often with children.

In Castro's time at MCSO, the lawsuit alleges he billed the Oklahoma Medicaid Program, SoonerCare, for surgical procedures performed and related hospital services that were not "medically necessary," some which never even took place.

Mark Green is a U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma. He released a statement, saying "Health care fraud is a tremendous problem in Eastern Oklahoma as well as across the nation."

Timothy Cline has been a MCSO customer for over 7 years. Last week his new baby boy was born there.

"I've never had any problems with them. They've sowed up my knee. They did some work on my brother's ankle," said Cline.

"They're pretty decent people here. Real friendly," said Cline.

Christine Bearden was just released Friday after having a stroke.

"I almost died. They saved my life," said Bearden.

But Green says it's everyone who foots the bill in Medicaid fraud cases.

"Fraud such as billing for services that aren't necessary costs the taxpayers of Oklahoma thousands of dollars."

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