Tenet, HMA Named in Federal Kickback Suit

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , February 20, 2014

"My office has made the investigation of healthcare fraud a priority," Michael J. Moore, US Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, said in prepared remarks. "In a time when too many people were struggling to get healthcare for themselves and their children, Tenet and these hospitals plundered a system set up for those truly in need. This kind of scheme drives up costs for everyone, not just the vulnerable patients and groups like those targeted in this case."

Tenet issued a statement strongly denying the government's accusations.

"… the agreements between Hispanic Medical Management and Atlanta Medical Center, North Fulton Hospital, Spalding Regional Hospital and Hilton Head Hospital provided substantial benefits to women in underserved Hispanic communities," the statement said. "By ensuring that pregnant women received prenatal care and appropriate treatment during birth, these programs increased the likelihood of a safe birth and a healthy baby while reducing the overall cost to state Medicaid programs. We will continue to vigorously defend against these allegations."

The fifth hospital named in the suit, HMA's Walton Regional Medical Center, in Monroe, GA, was renamed Clearview Regional Medical Center when Community Health Systems finalized its $7.6 billion acquisition of HMA last month.

Calls Wednesday to HMA, and CHS were not immediately returned. It's not clear how CHS's acquisition of HMA will affect the federal suit and who will be held accountable if a settlement is reached.

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