More Billing Fraud from Tenet Hospital Corporation?

Fraudulent billing by hospitals seems to be reaching epidemic proportions. The latest company in the news is Tenet (again).

Details were given in a article in the Dallas Morning News. Here are excerpts:

A federal investigation into kickbacks allegedly paid by Tenet Healthcare Corp. marks the latest fraud inquiry involving the Dallas-based hospital giant over the last decade.

The disclosure comes as Tenet has tried to reshape its image and operations since 2006, when it reached a $900 million settlement, one of the largest ever, with the U.S. Justice Department to resolve fraud accusations.

The new investigation alleges that four Tenet hospitals in Georgia and South Carolina made improper payments in return for patient referrals. Both investigations also were triggered by whistle-blower lawsuits filed under the U.S. False Claims Act, leading federal authorities to intervene as plaintiffs.

The FBI said in its release that the hospitals paid kickbacks to obstetric clinics serving “undocumented Hispanic women.’’ The money was in exchange for providing labor and delivery services to the patients. The hospitals then falsely billed Medicaid for reimbursements tied to the procedures, the statement said.

Tenet operates in 12 states. Its North Texas facilities include Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake in East Dallas, Lake Pointe Medical Center in Rowlett and Centennial Medical Center in Frisco.

Other Tenet facilities were investigated in the early 2000s on improper billing. Tenet struck its 2006 deal with the government to settle some of the improper billing allegations as well as kickback accusations.

The corporation’s management ranks have seen several changes in recent years. And the company continues to grow. Last fall it acquired another health care giant, Vanguard Health Systems based in Nashville, Tenn., for $4.3 billion.

The new Tenet investigation is at least the third such federal case involving a major Dallas health care organization in recent years. Parkland Memorial Hospital and its academic partner UT Southwestern Medical Center also faced Justice Department fraud suits stemming from whistle-blower actions. They denied wrongdoing and later paid settlements.

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