The penalty for EHR Incentive Program fraud can be severe, although a former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) appears to have been lucky with his sentence; receiving only a 23 month term for a false Meaningful Use declaration. The CFO’s claimed that his hospital had achieved meaningful use targets, when this was clearly not the case.
The now former CFO of Shelby Regional Medical Center, Joe White, 68, worked for Dr Tariq Mahmood, of Cedar Hill, TX. He was given responsibility for ensuring the hospital made the transition from paper files to Electronic Health Records (EHRs); one of the requirements of the Meaningful Use Program.
Every year healthcare providers must attest that they have achieved the necessary standards as demanded by the HITECH Meaningful Use scheme, and in return they qualify for incentive payments. The payments can be considerable, especially for a multiple-hospital system of the size run by Dr Mahmood.
Both Mahmood and White were indicted for healthcare fraud after the hospitals owned and operated by Mahmood were investigated. That investigation uncovered numerous cases of healthcare fraud, with Mahmood also charged with conspiracy.
Mahmood was found guilty on seven counts of healthcare fraud and one of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, and was sentenced to serve 135 months behind bars, in addition to making restitution for the funds illegally obtained from the Centers Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services and Blue Cross Blue Shield. In total Mahmood will have to pay back $100,000 in addition to serving his sentence.
White pleaded guilty to the charges for the EHR incentive program fraud and received his sentence from U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider. The judge ruled that White must also pay back the monies fraudulently claimed. The court report indicates $785,655.00 in payments from Medicare were received.
After the verdict was read, U.S. Attorney John M. Bales spoke of the charge and the false Meaningful Use claim. “He [White] intentionally decided to steal taxpayer monies and in the process, undermined and abuse this important program.”