Remember the wandering homeless patient we wrote about a few months back who had been shipped from an Orange County hospital to L.A.'s Skid Row and dumped there? Well such incidents have been the subject of a federal investigation initiated in 2006 after the LAPD began looking into reports of hospitals dumping homeless patients on the streets.
The results of that investigation exploded yesterday with the federal raids of three hospitals and the arrest of a hospital CEO in Los Angeles for alleged involvement in a scheme that bilked possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars from state and federal healthcare programs.
Buried in the national coverage was our home sweet home connection: two of the three hospitals that were raided and are alleged to have recruited homeless people to fill beds that the hospitals would then bill for, are owned by Tustin-based Pacific Health Corp. (The Reg did cover it).
Pacific Health Corp., in case all the connections haven’t been made, recently won a $57 million bid to purchase Anaheim Memorial Hospital. And they won it despite recent findings that its other hospital, Anaheim General was under threat of losing government funding after a surprise inspection found that there were major threats to patient safety, including a dirty baby warmer, medicines stored at the wrong temperatures, bad food for its patients and not enough food or water in case of an emergency. It seems Pacific Health may have been making up for what it might lose in government funding with its Medi-Cal/Medicare scheme at its other hospitals.
Federal search warrants were served at Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center and Tustin Hospital and Medical Center, both owned by Pacific Health Corp. The third hospital served, City of Angels Medical Center, is owned by Intercare Health Systems of L.A. FBI agents arrested Rudra Sabaratnam, CEO of City of Angels hospital, and Estill Mitts, operator of a Skid Row health assessment center allegedly tied to the fake patient recruitment part of the scheme.
Federal agents said they're not through with their arrests and the L.A. City Attorney's office also filed a lawsuit yesterday against Pacific Health, Intercare, several doctors, CEOs and others involved with the alleged scheme, according to reports.
The three hospitals are accused of hiring a company to recruit homeless people to fill empty hospital beds, submitting phony Medicare and Medi-Cal bills for services often not performed and keeping “patients” for two or three days. The homeless recruits are then alleged to have been paid $20 to $30 before being dumped on Skid Row. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of homeless patients are estimated to have been used in the scheme.