South Carolina Health Care and Kickback
July 22, 2006 by Joel Bieber
I just read that the Marion County Medical Center in Marion County South Carolina has agreed to pay $3.7 million to settle allegations of health care fraud that they had committed against the government. The fraud allegation revolved around charges that the medical center had submitted false claims to Medicare, Medicaid, and the U.S. Military Health Care System. It was alleged that they had engaged in paying two physicians, an amount for services that far exceeded the fair market value for the services that were performed by these physicians.
Conduct like this usually requires exposure by some insider. In this case, a whistleblower action was brought by Kenneth Orbeck who was a former employee of Marion. Unfortunately, unless there is some person to bring such fraudulent conduct to light, it continues to perpetuate itself.
When you see a health care provider fraudulently billing for care that is being rendered, it makes you question the type of care that is being provided by that facility. Unfortunately, how can we assume that this medical facility provided appropriate and attentive care when it appears that their focus was solely on profits. Yet, it is these same kind of medical care providers that scream for a need for caps on damages and that trial lawyers are driving up insurance costs, rather than having to focus on them for their specific conduct which could directly drive up insurance costs.
We need more courageous people like Mr. Orbeck to step forward under the False Claims Act to bring whistleblower actions for fraud on behalf of the United States as well as exposing such fraud and abuse by medical care providers like this medical facility. Why are there no doctors in their white coats, outside of this facility, picketing the fact that Marion County Medical Center is driving up insurance rates?