Fraud scandal likely to shutter part of state's telehealth program

The not-for-profit organization that administers large parts of Tennessee's telehealth program will likely shut down amid allegations of financial impropriety among its top executives, report the Memphis Commercial Appeal and Nashville Public Radio. The scandal could provoke closer examinations of telehealth practices in other states, potentially driving up healthcare delivery costs for rural providers.

The pending closure of the Community Health Network occurred about 18 months after the abrupt email resignation of Chief Executive Officer Keith Williams and the subsequent firing of Chief Financial Officer Paul Monroe.

An audit by state investigators discovered that Williams paid himself nearly $81,000 via purchases made on agency credit cards, directly appropriated cash, falsified expense reports and stole equipment. Monroe paid himself more than $10,000 in unauthorized funds. Another $1.2 million was misspent by the agency, according to the audit.

Williams took another job with a software vendor that supplied its products to Community Health.

These findings have been referred to the state attorney general's office, according to the Nashville Public Radio.

"It is very unfortunate that public money intended to assist in providing health care to people in remote rural areas was wasted and abused in this fashion," said Tennessee Comptroller Justin P. Wilson.

Nashville Public Radio says Community Health is in the midst of winding down its operations.

For more:
- read the Commercial Appeal article
- read the Nashville Public Radio article

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