When Doctors Cheat to Line Pockets, Insurers Pay, and Sometimes Taxpayers Too, Prosecutors Say

When hospitals and doctors cheat to line their pockets, health care costs shoot up for everyone who has insurance, federal prosecutors say. In many cases, taxpayers are left to foot the bill. A case in point: an employee had back surgery at Forest Park Medical Center and a two-day stay to recover, and already the hospital bill was up to $400,000, the witness told jurors. What the patient and his employer, the city of Allen, did not know was that Forest Park was paying kickbacks and bribes to doctors for bringing their surgeries to the higher-cost, out-of-network Dallas hospital, federal prosecutors said. Some of the victims of Forest Park's scheming were employees and taxpayers of North Texas cities like Dallas and Allen, who fund city programs through their property taxes, Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Pfeifle told jurors. Their medical costs got to be so high, Allen and Dallas eventually stopped giving their employees out-of-network benefits, according to testimony at the Forest Park federal bribery trial in Dallas. Nine defendants, including four surgeons, are on trial for allegedly paying and accepting bribes and kickbacks from Forest Park in exchange for the referral of patients. The government rested its case Wednesday after about five weeks of witness testimony. Jurors also heard more evidence Tuesday about marketing agreements that allegedly were used to try to hide the bribes and kickbacks.   Continue reading...

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