Florida Hospital Chain Accused of Conspiring to Hike Payments
Every day the scorecards went up, where they could be seen by all of the hospital’s emergency room doctors.
Physicians hitting the target to admit at least half of the patients over 65 years old who entered the emergency department were color-coded green. The names of doctors who were close were yellow. Failing physicians were red.
The scorecards, according to one whistle-blower lawsuit, were just one of the many ways that Health Management Associates, a for-profit hospital chain based in Naples, Fla., kept tabs on an internal strategy that regulators and others say was intended to increase admissions, regardless of whether a patient needed hospital care, and pressure the doctors who worked at the hospital.
This month, the Justice Department said it had joined eight separate whistle-blower lawsuits against H.M.A. in six states. The lawsuits describe a wide-ranging strategy that is said to have relied on a mix of sophisticated software systems, financial incentives and threats in an attempt to inflate the company’s payments from Medicare and Medicaid by admitting patients like an infant whose temperature was a normal 98.7 degrees for a “fever.”
For H.M.A., the timing could not be worse. Shareholders recently approved the planned $7.6 billion acquisition of the company by Community Health Systems, which will create the nation’s second-largest for-profit hospital chain by revenue, with more than 200 facilities. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of the month.
Join the Discussion
After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.
LATEST HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES HEADLINES
The Other Problem with Guns: Lead Poisoning12 hours ago
Alaska Congressman Blames Government Handouts for Suicide18 hours ago
Tracing Ebola in a Hyper-Connected City of 8 Million19 hours ago
Idaho to Launch State-Based Exchange This Round of Obamacare19 hours ago
States Drop Pay Raises for Medicaid Doctors1 day ago
Child Poverty Reaches Highest Rate in 20 Years1 day ago