- Associated Press - Thursday, August 14, 2014

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - A group of Savannah health care providers has agreed to pay $4 million to settle accusations that they billed Medicare for false and inflated claims.

The settlement was announced Thursday by U.S. Attorney Edward Tarver and resolves a 2011 whistleblower complaint filed by a former CEO of Memorial Health Inc., which operates a Savannah hospital.

Authorities say Optim Healthcare and related parties named in the complaint were routing Savannah patients needing major surgeries to a rural hospital Optim owned about 90 miles away. Authorities say Optim submitted claims to Medicare that were inflated or purposefully misidentified in order to receive a higher reimbursement.

Optim CEO Michael Kleinpeter said in an emailed statement the violations were made in error and the company disagrees with allegations that were included in the complaint.