Saturday, May 13, 2006

Illegal charity

Indeed, this seems to be the approach to several charity hospitals that had the gall to continue their charitable mission. They get into trouble when they only give charity to human beings and not to Medicare apparatchiks.

This is exactly happened to the 161 bed Deborah Hospital in New Jersey. The hospital never charges patients for medical services. But the hospital did collect from Medicare when patients had Medicare coverage.

As medical lawyer Madeline P. Cosman, Ph.D., writes "the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services prosecuted Deborah over the course of four years because Deborah accepts Medicare payments without requiring patient copayments and therefore violates a slew of civil and criminal laws.

"By following its own three-quarter-century-old mandate to never charge patients, Deborah Hospital was accused of granting incentives for referrals, submitting false claims to the government, unfairly competing with community and other specialty hospitals, and generally flouting White Coat Crime laws ... Medicare has no obligation to pay for hospital care that the patient gets as a free gift."

Outlawing charity in the name of saving money. Good times.

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