Former hospital CFO to repay $4.4M over EHR fraud

Former hospital chief financial officer Joe White has been ordered to pay $4.4 million in restitution, according to a report from Waco, Texas, TV news station

White, of Cameron, Texas, was indicted in February 2014 and charged with making false statements to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. He attested in 2012 that Shelby Regional Medical center met the Meaningful Use requirements. In actuality, the hospital relied mainly on paper records and used a certified electronic health record (EHR) "minimally," according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

White directed the EHR vendor and employees to manually input data into the EHR, often months after patients were discharged and after the fiscal year ended. Shelby received $785,655 in incentive payments for 2012.

White also engaged in aggravated identity theft by using the name and information of another person to attest to Meaningful Use without that person's consent or authorization.

He pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the government in November 2014. Sentencing is scheduled later this month.

Shelby was part of a chain of hospitals owned by physician Tariq Mahmood, who was sentenced in April to 155 months in prison and ordered to repay almost $600,000 for fraudulent billing. His hospitals received nearly $17 million overall in incentive payments, according to the report.

The report does not indicate who ordered White to pay the $4.4 million, or why Mahmood has been ordered to repay less than White. The hospitals are no longer in operation.

White is the first person to be prosecuted for false Meaningful Use attestation, but likely won't be the only one. CMS has been auditing these payments; and the Office of Inspector General has now started its own auditing program to determine not only if hospitals and physicians were entitled to incentive payments, but also whether the government entities that have paid them out are doing so correctly.

To learn more:
- here's the report