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Originally published Saturday, March 19, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Seattle cancer center settles whistle-blower suit

Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center will pay $478,000 to Medicare and Tricare and a whistle-blower to settle a lawsuit that accused...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center will pay $478,000 to Medicare and Tricare and a whistle-blower to settle a lawsuit that accused the center of overbilling the federal benefits programs, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced yesterday.

As part of the settlement, the center admits no wrongdoing.

A physician's assistant at the center, Jeffrey Gorumba, filed a "whistle-blower complaint" in 2002, alleging that the treatment facility billed Medicare for medications as though they were being administered by physicians at the site, when in fact, the drugs were being given to patients on a take-home basis, to be administered by other medical personnel.

In other words, the center was billing at a higher rate, according to the complaint.

No problems with patient care were alleged in the lawsuit against Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center, which is affiliated with Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Cancer Treatment Centers was named in the lawsuit, but was dismissed from the litigation.

Gorumba, the whistle-blower, will receive $95,600 of the total $478,000 settlement, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Gorumba, who said he was let go because he opposed the alleged billing practices, is being paid an additional $180,000 to settle his claim for wrongful termination.

Beth Kaiman: 206-464-2441 or bkaiman@seattletimes.com

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