A group of Chicago-area radiology centers accused in a lawsuit of getting referrals by paying illegal kickbacks to doctors has agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle the case, the Illinois Attorney General's office announced Wednesday.
"This settlement sends a strong message that medical professionals cannot engage in schemes to line their pockets at the expense of providing the best patient care," Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in a statement.
The settlement comes almost exactly one year after Madigan joined in a lawsuit filed against Virginia-based MIDI, LLC and several Open Advanced MRI facilities the company operates in Chicago and surrounding communities.
The lawsuit, originally filed in early 2006 by the operator of a Chicago-area MRI center, alleged that the Open Advanced MRI facilities entered into "sham" agreements with doctors. According to the suit, doctors were given some of the money from insurance companies for each patient scanned.
Madigan's office said Wednesday that doctors paid a reduced rate for MRI and CT scans, and then the centers charged patients' insurance carries a higher rate and then pocketed the difference.
Doctors paid a reduced rate for MRI and CT scans, and then the centers charged the patients' insurance carriers a higher rate and then pocketed the difference, according to Madigan's office.
The settlement calls for the state to distribute $840,000 of the settlement in grants to benefit low income people in need of heath care services.
It also prohibits any of the radiology centers -- 11 of which are still open -- from "operating under any kickback agreements with referring physicians in Illinois," according to Madigan's office.
The company referred questions from The Associated Press to a Chicago attorney, who did not immediately return calls for comment Wednesday.
Madigan's office said it was continuing to investigate the issue of whether doctors were knowingly involved with the scheme but declined to further comment.