Like this story out of (guess where?) Texas. Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital just coughed up $1 million to settle a suit with the U.S. Attorneys office who said they had a deal with a doctors’ group to run a blood gas lab and then submitted claims to Medicare for “interpreting” blood tests that didn’t need to be interpreted at all.
Meanwhile, in parts further north, a self-styled Minnesota-based “country doctor” named Stanley Gallagher has agreed, along with Wheaton County Hospital to pay a $900k settlement for unnecessarily admitting patients to the hospital and keeping them there too long in order to inflate their bills to Medicare.
In one glaring example, a “a 91-year-old man with a history of back pain was admitted [to the hospital] because he had pain radiating down the back of his leg. He spent six days in acute care and was treated with oral pain medication and physical therapy.” To the astonishment of no one, government “medical experts said that treatments did not require acute level in-patient care.”
Meanwhile, “Gallagher was disciplined by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice in 2004 for delivering substandard care, although the sanctions were lifted in 2006.” Another theme of ours, with Minnesota ranking at the very last in the country for serious disciplinary actions against doctors.
Anyway, you get this idea. There are too many bad docs out there who view their license to practice medicine as a license to gouge. Here’s hoping Congress takes note as it prepares to “reconcile” the House and Senate health care bills.