HOSPITALS: Fraud–Hospital CEO Goes to Jail, by MATT QUINN

After the – alleged – Medicare fraud at HealthSouth, Tenet, Medco, et. al… the government has held the CEO of an organization that defrauded Medicare personally responsible:

According to AIS Health, Guy Roland Seaton, the CEO of a California subacute hospital and nursing home was sentenced to 78 months in prison for bilking Medicare by overstating nursing salaries at his facility by almost $3 million.

It seems that the nursing home used fabricated time cards and phony payroll reports to inflate Medicare charges for nursing salaries:

    “A St. Luke’s employee created false time cards and payroll reports from 1996 to 1999. For example, Seaton allegedly told an employee to create phony nursing logs and nursing schedules for April 1996 and February 1997. When the Medicare fiscal intermediary, Mutual of Omaha, got a whiff that something was amiss in nursing salary reimbursement, it planned an audit. In anticipation of the 1999 audit, a St. Luke’s employee assembled a binder full of false nursing schedules and then gave it to FI auditors, the indictment says.”

While it is clear that the CEO of St. Luke’s had a direct role in the fraud, it is heartening to see that prosecutors didn’t accept the “I’m the CEO and didn’t know about the actions of a few rogue employees” so commonly used in this day and age.

While the dollar amount in this case pales in comparison to the – alleged – amounts that the other companies have been accused of defrauding the government, one can only hope that prosecutors hold corporate heads responsible for the behavior of their low-level employees (versus the other way around). But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

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