A New Jersey hospital chain will pay $265 million to settle a pair of whistleblower lawsuits that claimed it had systematically inflated charges to Medicare patients in order to obtain enhanced reimbursements, Justice Department lawyers said Thursday.

According to court papers, the massive settlement by Saint Barnabas Corp. — the largest health care system in New Jersey and second largest employer in the state — could be just the first in a wave because numerous other unidentified hospitals are apparently facing similar accusations.

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