On February 6, 2014, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas announced that the former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Dr. Tariq Mahmood’s Texas hospitals was charged with health care fraud violations related to the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program. Joe White, former CFO of the now-closed Shelby Regional Medical Center in Texas, was indicted for allegedly making false statements to the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and defrauding the federal government of nearly $800,000 in meaningful use payments. The indictment states that the hospital was granted $785,655 in January 2013 for successful demonstration of meaningful use during the 2012 full-year reporting period.
The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program was created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to provide incentive payments to eligible professionals and eligible hospitals that meaningfully use certified electronic health record technology.
The indictment further alleges that White falsely attested to the hospital’s meaningful use by using another person’s name and information without that individual’s consent or authorization.
If convicted, White faces a total of up to seven years in prison and $500,000 in fines on all charges. Authorities are also trying to recoup the incentive payments made to the hospital.
This case underscores the importance of eligible hospitals and eligible professionals ensuring they have met all meaningful use requirements before attesting. Conducting a thorough internal pre-attestation audit can help avoid errors or misstatements in the meaningful use attestation.