State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says Sutter has agreed to pay 46 million dollars and make changes to its billing procedures. Jones says Sutter has been charging for anesthesia services in several different ways --- and now, it will have to bill for anesthesia on a flat-fee basis rather than on the length of time.
Under the suit, the chain must also more clearly disclose its charges and services to patients and insurers. Sutter must also post on its website the cost of its anesthesia services.
The settlement comes as a trial was scheduled to start this month over the billing practices. A whisteblower lawsuit had been brought against Sutter by a billing auditor and Insurance Commissioner Jones joined the suit.
Sutter officials have insisted the chain followed the appropriate billing regulations and protocols.
The settlement money will be split between the state of California and the whistleblower.
The California Hospital Association released a statement that says the billing practices used by Sutter are used by 90 percent of hospitals in California and are industry standard.