HMA Hospital Chain Blasted on 60 Minutes

HMA, the publicly traded hospital chain which owns Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center and other Washington facilities, was blasted last night on 60 Minutes with claims of Medicare fraud and admitted patients – particularly seniors – without medical need.Claiming to have talked with over “100 people”, the 60 Minutes segment highlighted a number of former HMA staff on camera, including physicians, case management staff, and internal fraud investigators.  All have been fired or quit over the issues highlighted in the piece.

Here are some of the elements from the piece.

On the topic of admitting patients without medical need, physicians were told:

“We will admit 20% of our patients or somebody’s going to get fired.”  The normal rate for a rural hospital is “…somewhere in the neighborhood of 10%.”

“You can’t do that without being fraudulent.”

On the point of quotas, or “benchmarks”, the staff interviewed in the piece said the benchmark was a 20% admit rate for all patients.

“For patients were 65 and older, the benchmark (for admission) was 50%.”

On Friday, the HMA released a statement trying to preempt the fallout from Sunday night’s 60 Minutes piece.

The piece concludes with:

“The hospital chain is currently under investigation by the Justice Department, which has subpoenaed records pertaining to the management of its emergency rooms and its computer software program, ProMed, which HMA has stopped using.”