News Column

Georgia Hospitals Tangled Up in Kickback Probe

May 2, 2013

Federal regulators are investigating whether a business relationship between four Georgia hospitals and an Atlanta area health care services contractor violated federal anti-kickback and false claims laws.

Tenet Healthcare Corp., a Texas-based national health care chain that owns the hospitals, disclosed the investigation in a recent regulatory filing.

Included in the investigation are four hospitals in Georgia: Atlanta Medical Center, North Fulton Regional Hospital, South Fulton Medical Center (now known as Atlanta Medical Center -- South Campus) and Spalding Regional Hospital. Also included is Hilton Head Hospital in South Carolina.

The contractor in the investigation is Hispanic Medical Management, which owns clinics and provides services such as prenatal care mainly to Hispanic women, according to the filing. Tenet is not affiliated with Hispanic Medical Management, Tenet said.

Tenet said it would not comment on the investigation beyond what it reported in its filing. A spokesperson Wednesday said the company continues to work with the government.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which is investigating, declined to comment.

A telephone message was left at a number listed for Hispanic Medical Management's offices, but it was not immediately returned. The company's owners could not be reached.

In its filing, Tenet reported it had received a subpoena seeking documents from January 2004 through May 2012 "related to the relationship" between its hospitals and Health Medical Management.

It said the hospitals contracted with the company for translation, marketing and Medicaid eligibility determination services.

According to Tenet: "We understand the government's review focuses on whether the arrangements violated the federal Anti-kickback Statute and False Claims Act. We have produced documents and information responsive to the subpoena and are cooperating with the government's review. At this time, we are unable to determine the potential impact, if any, that will result from the final resolution of this investigation."

In January, Atlanta Medical Center and South Fulton Medical Center consolidated in an attempt to ensure financial stability. The South Fulton facility in East Point was renamed Atlanta Medical Center -- South Campus. It had struggled financially and was in bankruptcy when Tenet bought it in 2001.

___

(c)2013 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)

Visit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.) at www.ajc.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services





Source: Copyright Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) 2013