SC hospitals object of whistleblower suit

A whistleblower lawsuit accuses Hilton Head Hospital in South Carolina and other facilities in the region of paying kickbacks to outpatient clinics as part of a scheme to have undocumented women give birth at the hospitals in order to extract payments from the Medicaid program, the State newspaper has reported

According to the suit, which was recently unsealed in federal court, Hilton Head Hospital and other inpatient facilities owned by for-profit chains Tenet Healthcare Corp. and Health Management Associates made payments to clinics operated by Hispanic Medical Management to refer their pregnant patients to their facilities, in violation of federal kickback laws.

Although Medicaid does not cover most care for undocumented individuals, it will pay for emergency services, such as childbirth.

Tenet acknowledged that it provided maternity services to the clinic's patients, but denied it was induced to do so. "We believe the agreements between Hispanic Medical Management (HMM) and Hilton Head Hospital were appropriate, and that Hilton Head provided much needed health care services to underserved pregnant women," Tenet said in a statement.

The litigation is connected to a recent whistleblower suit unsealed in Georgia and brought by Ralph Williams, a former chief financial officer for Walton Regional Medical Center, which is owned by Health Management Associates.

To learn more:
- read The State article