CA hospital chair pleads guilty to paying for referrals

The former co-owner and chairman of the board of a California hospital has pleaded guilty to paying kickbacks in exchange for patient referrals. The man, 74-year-old Robert Borseau, is the fourth person to cop a guilty plea in a spectacular scam that brought well homeless people into beds to bilk Medicare and Medicaid.

In their pleas, Borseau and other Los Angeles-based City of Angels Medical Center execs admitted that they recruited homeless people on the city's Skid Row and subjected them to unnecessary tests and procedures in an effort to generate extra income. While this is far from the first time a provider has scammed government health plans, the scheme Borseau and his colleagues ran was particularly brazen. 

To recruit sham patients, the hospitals used "runners" who canvassed the streets of Skid row, offering homeless people $20 to $30 when they finished a needless hospital stay of one to three days. The runner would get $40 for each homeless recruit eligible for Medicare and $20 for each recruit with Medi-Cal benefits, according to a lawsuit by city attorney Rocky Delgadillo.

Borseau stands to face a sentence of up to 10 years in the federal lockup, and will pay upwards of $4.1 million in restitution to Medicare and Medi-Cal (California's Medicaid program).

To learn more about the case:
- read this Los Angeles Times blog item

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