Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Serial Ethics Abuser Tenet Healthcare Settles for $368 million

Modern Healthcare reported:

Two of Tenet Healthcare Corp.'s former subsidiaries (sold in March 2016) admitted to conspiring to defraud Medicaid by using referral contracts for translation services to funnel pregnant patients through their doors.

Atlanta Medical Center and North Fulton Hospital in Georgia each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate federal anti-kickback laws and defraud the United States, Tenet said on Monday, as it finalized a $514 million settlement over its involvement in the scheme.
How does a hospital plead guilty to criminal activity?  Who set up the deal and approved payments for over 20,000 Medicaid patients?  An internet search revealed the last time a Tenet executive was criminally charged for illegal kickbacks was 2003.

Back to the case just settled:

In 2014, the U.S. Justice Department joined a whistleblower lawsuit accusing Tenet and four of its hospitals of allegedly making illegal payments to clinics operated by Clinica de la Mama and Hispanic Medical Management in exchange for Medicaid patient referrals, a violation of the federal anti-kickback statute and Stark law.
So Tenet knew two years ago about the scheme and dumped the hospitals prior to announcing the settlement.  It's the game of image management, especially as criminal activity occurred while Tenet was under a 2006 Compliance Integrity Agreement.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush served on the Tenet Board of Directors while the fraud was perpetrated.  I'm sure the company did not want to tarnish the image of a Presidential hopeful.  Ironically, Jeb dropped out of the race as Tenet sold its offending facilities..

A Tenet Southern Region CEO was arrested and charged with a crime in 2014.  It wasn't for fraud or kickbacks.  Atlanta Business Chronicle reported:

Hartford, Ala., police arrested Tenet Healthcare Corp.’s Southern region CEO Michael Lee Graue after he allegedly traveled across state lines to have sex with what he thought was a 14-year-old girl, according to Dothan First.

Tenet fired the 58-year-old metro Atlanta health-care executive, who was released Monday after posting a $200,000 bond.
That arrest came courtesy of local police.  We'll see if the Justice Department goes after individuals committing actual crimes vs. negotiating mult-million settlements with subsidiaries and parent corporations. 

I find it interesting an Atlanta based Tenet Senior Vice President of Operations got six years for his child sex solicitation crime.  Contrast this with the Justice Department not charging anyone.  

Tenet HealthSystem Medical Inc. and its subsidiaries (collectively THSM) entered into a non-prosecution agreement (NPA) with the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia related to the charges in the criminal information
The feds are happy taking Tenet's $368 million and letting perpetrators go Scott free.  Flash back to 2003, when criminals were actually charged for their fraudulent acts.