A former hospital CFO has been fined $4.4 million for defrauding the federal government through the directing of staff to falsely attest to meaningful use under the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act.
According to a report last week in iHealthBeat, Joe White, formerly the CFO of Shelby Regional Medical Center in Texas, has agreed to pay back $4.4 million in restitution in his involvement in a scheme to falsely attest to meaningful use. According to KXXV News, a local broadcast news outlet in Waco, the false statements that White made on behalf of the hospital, now closed, led to Shelby Regional Medical Center and other hospitals owned by Tariq Mahmood, M.D., to receive nearly $17 million in meaningful use payments.
Mahmood was convicted in July of conspiracy to commit fraud, healthcare fraud, and aggravated identity theft, and was sentenced in April to 11 years in prison. Dr. Mahmood has filed an appeal.
The KXXV report noted that “White pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the government about the implementation of electronic data systems and a second charge of aggravated identity theft after using an employee's name to falsify documentation for those incentive funds for a hospital in Shelby Regional Medical Center in Center, Texas. His sentencing will be May 27, and he could get seven years in federal prison.” As HCI reported in February 2014, when he was indicted on federal charges, “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.”
Our February 2014 report also noted that “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.”