In fact, Skolnick says she was surprised last year when, at one of HCA's hospitals in Georgia, she had to pay for parking. "I had to pay because their view, under the rules, is you're not even allowed to give a patient or a doctor a gift of parking without it being considered an inducement. It was very interesting to see."
Skolnick says the healthcare industry, particularly at the hospital level, is under tremendous pressure to be in compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which gives whistleblowers and federal agencies such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Office of Inspector General, and the DOJ more tools to go after healthcare fraud.
"What energized the effort is a provision in the healthcare reform act that can very quickly turn what is an error in billing into a false claims act. So you have a lot more self-reporting. Whether it be Tenet, or HCA, or even specialty hospitals like HealthSouth, everybody knows it's a very hospital-investigative environment. It's tough, and the authorities are using that as their ammunition in already well-armored fight," Skolnick said.