Hospital Falsely Attested to MU for Cash

21128571_lThe former chief financial officer of a Texas hospital was recently indicted for wrongly claiming nearly $1 million in federal electronic health record incentives.

Joe White, former CFO of now-closed Shelby Regional Medical Center in Center, Texas, was charged with healthcare fraud by making false statements to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services over meeting meaningful use requirements, officials announced Feb. 6.

According to the November 2012 indictment, White falsely attested to CMS that Shelby Regional Medical Center met meaningful use requirements for the 2012 fiscal year, ultimately receiving $785,655 in payments.

According to officials, however, Shelby Regional relied on paper records throughout the fiscal year and only minimally used an EHR. To give the false appearance that the hospital was using MU-certified technology, White directed its software vendor and hospital employees to manually input data from paper records into the electronic health record software, often months after the patient was discharged and after the end of the fiscal year.

The indictment further alleges White falsely attested to the hospital’s meaningful use by using another person’s name and information without that individual’s consent or authorization. Shelby Regional closed back in 2013, with its owner Tariq Mahmood, MD, also being investigated for healthcare fraud.

In total, the six Texas hospitals operated by Mahmood were paid $16.8 million in meaningful use incentives for fiscal years 2011 and 2012.

“As more and more federal dollars are made available to providers to adopt electronic health record systems, our office is expecting to see more cases like this one,” said Special Agent in Charge Mike Fields of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s Dallas Regional Office, in a Feb. 6 press statement. “The Office of Inspector General is committed to protecting the millions of taxpayer dollars used to pay providers to adopt electronic health record systems.”

To date, CMS has paid eligible providers and hospitals more than $19.2 billion for attesting to meaningful use requirements.

If convicted, White faces up to five years in federal prison for making a false statement and up to two years in federal prison for aggravated identity theft.

Article by Erin McCann, Associate Editor at Healthcare IT News.

 

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