Wellstar CEO fired following Medicaid scandal

Wellstar Health System's board fired President and CEO Gregory Simone late last week. Although board chairman Robert Randall Bentley would not explain why Simone was terminated, effective immediately, the CEO's firing came during a news-filled week for Wellstar. Three days before, the nonprofit health system agreed to pay $2.7 million because it improperly billed the state Medicaid system, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The allegations related to patients served at five Wellstar hospitals in the Atlanta area: Cobb, Douglas, Kennestone, Windy Hill and Pauldin. A flaw in claims processing software was to blame for the Medicaid overpayments and the state found no intent to defraud, according to a company statement, AJC reports.

Two days before Simone's ouster, the board told Wellstar executive vice president and general counsel Bonnie Wilson that her contract also would not be renewed. It's possible that both moves represent a new board approach. In July, the Board of Trustees added a new chairman, vice chairman and two board members, the Atlanta Business Journal reports. Perhaps they were cleaning house.

Wellstar CFO Jim Budzinski will serve as acting president and CEO while the board conducts a national search. Simone had headed the hospital system since 2007.
Wellstar employs more than 11,000 people. Its largest hospital, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, has 630 beds. The system's projected net revenue for FY2011 is $1.6 billion, according to the AJC.

To learn more:
- read these three articles from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: article 1, article 2 and article 3
- see the article from the Atlanta Business Journal