Health care settlements

More hospitals in the crosshairs over patient referrals

A surgeon uses surgical tools on a patient in a hospital operating room.
Patient referrals are the lifeblood of hospitals. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

New lawsuits allege that large hospital systems have illegally billed federal health care programs after making improper financial deals with doctors as a way to control where patients get care.

Why it matters: Hospitals that own physician practices capture more referrals and therefore more money than their competitors — but potentially skirt federal law and inflate the cost of care for everyone in the process.

The Sackler family withdrew billions from Purdue Pharma

 Purdue Pharma headquarters
Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, withdrew $10.7 billion from the company over the last dozen years, placing the money in trusts and overseas holding companies, according to an audit commissioned by Purdue and filed in bankruptcy court yesterday.

Why it matters: The revelation may reignite the debate over how much the Sacklers should be required to pay to resolve the thousands of lawsuits pending against Purdue for its role in the opioid epidemic, the New York Times reports. The family has offered to pay at least $3 billion in cash as part of a settlement, but some states have argued that the Sacklers should have to pay more.

Go deeper: New court documents show former Purdue Pharma chief's role in marketing OxyContin