National Medical Pays The Piper

National Medical Enterprises cut a landmark deal with the Justice Dept. on June 29 to settle charges of Medicare fraud and conspiracy. The agreement, stipulating payments totaling $363 million, is the largest yet in the Clinton Administration's high-profile crackdown on health-care fraud. As part of the accord, the product of nine months of negotiations with Justice, NME will plead guilty to illegally paying care providers for referrals to the company's psychiatric hospitals. NME will pay an additional $16 million in fines to resolve other claims in 28 different states. The deal "will signify that NME is taking full responsibility for past conduct," says Jeffrey Barbakow, who took over as CEO last year to straighten out the mess.

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