COLUMBIA: MORE STATES BEGIN MEDICAID-RELATED INQUIRIES
At least 10 states have initiated investigations intoThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
whether Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. overbilled their Medicaid
programs, "adding to the expanding federal probe of the hospital
chain," AP/Kansas City Star reports. Officials in Arkansas,
Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nevada, Utah, Washington and Wyoming
confirmed earlier this week that they are examining whether
Columbia defrauded their Medicaid programs. The announcement
means that "more than a quarter of the 32 states with Columbia
hospitals have begun inquiries into the nation's largest publicly
traded" hospital company. Alabama, Florida and Texas recently
made similar announcements. Click here for more information on
the other state investigations. However, aides for California
Attorney General Dan Lungren (R), Louisiana Attorney General
Richard Ieyoub (D), Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker (D)
and Virginia Attorney General Richard Cullen (R) "denied" a
recent report "that their offices are looking into Columbia."
FOLLOWING THE TOBACCO COMPANIES' LEAD?
Lt. Col. Earl Morris of the Utah Division of Criminal
Investigations said, "We, obviously, are looking for Medicaid
fraud or fraudulent claims and billing practices on the part of
Columbia. We're still sifting through loads of documents. But I
suspect ... we will find some state interests that need to be
addressed." Columbia spokesperson Jeff Prescott said he was not
surprised by the increasing number of state investigations.
"We're certainly willing to cooperate with states that are
interested. And we hope to find anything ourselves through our
internal review that might need to be done differently," he said.
AP/Kansas City Star reports that if "state prosecutors pursue
charges against Columbia or its managers, the company would have
a strong incentive to seek a broad agreement with all
prosecutors, as tobacco companies are trying to do to settle a
series of state lawsuits." James Burns, former U.S. attorney in
Chicago, said, "From the company's perspective, they're going to
be looking for some type of global workout" (8/29).