How doctors buy their way out of trouble
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Reuters
Posted: June 13th, 2023
Over the last decade alone, at least 540 doctors and healthcare practitioners collectively paid the government hundreds of millions of dollars to negotiate their way out of trouble via civil settlements, then continued to practice medicine without restrictions on their licenses despite allegations that included fraud and patient harm, a Reuters investigation found. That figure is the result of the first-ever comprehensive analysis of federal civil settlements and state disciplinary actions. Separately, more than 2,200 hospitals and healthcare companies likewise negotiated civil deals to sidestep prosecution for alleged offenses that included paying bribes, falsifying patients records and billing the government for unnecessary patient care, the Reuters analysis shows. In many of those cases, the physicians, staffers and top brass who purportedly committed those misdeeds were not named publicly by prosecutors or forced to pay settlements themselves. Federal enforcers said they sometimes withhold names of individuals in these situations because of ongoing or planned investigations. The U.S. government collected more than $26.8 billion in healthcare-related civil settlements and judgments from 2013 to 2022, the Reuters analysis found. Victims, meanwhile, received no share of these settlements, which are funneled to a Treasury Department general fund. Consequently, they must pursue their own civil cases in search of restitution for suffering and harm, Reuters found.