Rural Doc Settles Federal Charges

Cora Nucci, for HealthLeaders Media , November 17, 2010

In April a jury in U.S. District Court in Vermont returned not guilty verdicts on five counts of violating federal conflict-of-interest laws.

Weeks has long been an advocate for rural veterans, saying in 2004, "We need to think about veterans who live in rural settings as a special population, and we need to carefully consider their needs when designing healthcare delivery systems."

As a researcher, he found that rural veterans are in poorer health than their urban and suburban counterparts. But he said he "didn't know if that was a rural veteran issue or a rural issue," according to a 2006 article published in a Dartmouth publication. A 2009 study he published in Health Services Research found that VA healthcare users get most of their medical care from non-VA providers. Working-age VA users have less insurance coverage and rely more on VA care if they live in rural areas.

According to his bio on the website of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Weeks, who is working as an associate professor of psychiatry and of community and family medicine, "directs the VA Quality Scholars Fellowship Program, the Veterans' Rural Health Initiative, and the VA Outcomes Group Research Enhancement Award Program. His research interests lie in business and economic aspects of health services delivery, particularly as they relate to physician education, veterans who live in rural settings, and the quality and safety of healthcare."

As part of the settlement, Weeks will also pay the United States $47,500 to settle civil claims the government filed against him for conflict of interest and filing false claims.

Cora Nucci is the Digital Associate Editorial Director for HealthLeaders Media.

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