A former hospital CFO for Tariq Mahmood's, M.D. now collapsed hospital chain, including Shelby Regional Medical Center (Center, Texas), is being charged with healthcare fraud for lying about use of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to receive incentive payments from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
According to the indictment in the Eastern District of Texas, CFO, Joe White, 66 of Cameron, Texas, made it seem like Shelby Regional had transitioned from paper to electronic records. He direct the software vendor, not named in the indictment, and hospital employees to manually input data from paper records into the EHR, months after the patient was discharged and after the end of the fiscal year.
The indictment also says that White attested to meaningful use by using someone else's name information without that individual's consent or authorization. For this, he is being charged with aggravated identity theft. CMS paid Shelby Regional $785,655.00 for meaningful use. In total, hospitals operated by Dr. Mahmood, were paid $16,794,462.66 by the EHR incentive programs for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. It's unclear if White allegedly did this for all of the hospitals.
"As more and more federal dollars are made available to providers to adopt Electronic Health Record systems, our office is expecting to see more cases like this one," Special Agent in Charge Mike Fields of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General's (OIG) Dallas Regional Office to local CBS affiliate, KYTX 19 in Tyler, Texas.
If White is convicted, he faces up to five years in prison for making a false statement and two for the identity theft charge. According to Dallas News, White rose from maintenance man to CFO and administrator in Mahmood’s hospital chain.
White has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) indicated that CMS has not yet adopted practices that would protect fraud vulnerabilities in electronic health record (EHR) systems.
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