FBI begins investigation into 21CT; mental health clinic owners sentenced for $97 million scam;

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> The FBI is investigating the $110 million, no-bid deal between the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and 21CT, the tech company hired to analyze Medicare data for fraud, The Austin-American Statesman reported. After being awarded a $20 million contract, the technology firm's $90 million contract extension was canceled last month, leading to the resignation of two top HHSC officials. The Travis County District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit and the State Auditor's Office have both launched investigations. Article

> Two owners of a mental health clinic were sentenced to more than 20 years collectively for their roles in a $97 million Medicare fraud scheme, and a group home owner was sentenced to more than four years in prison for receiving kickbacks in exchange for sending residents to the clinic, according to the FBI. The two doctors signed admission documents for unnecessary partial hospitalization program services and paid kickbacks to recruiters in exchange for patients. Release

> Charleston, South Carolina-based Nason Medical Center and its two owners agreed to pay more than $1 million to settle fraud allegations, according to the FBI. The U.S. District Attorney's office claimed that the hospital submitted claims provided by physician assistants as if they were provided by physicians, provided testing that was not medically necessary and performed radiology services by unlicensed radiologists. The investigation began as the result of a whistleblower claim. Release

Health Payer News:

> The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner has announced her resignation, effective at the end of February, according to an email obtained by FierceHealthPayer. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell noted that Tavenner was instrumental in implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), although others noted she was involved in the botched rollout of Healthcare.gov last fall. Article

> Even though the ACA has faced intensified pushback following a Republican takeover of the Senate, experts at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference say that the ACA is "too entrenched to be removed." Despite lawsuits from Republicans, growing enrollment will make it difficult to repeal the law. Article

And finally… One Ohio county is force-feeding birth control to pigeons to protect its new courthouse. Article