Healthcare Fraud

HUMC sale under scrutiny, Ex-Hoboken cop launches lawsuit over blocked records request

A former police officers’ private investigation into the dealings surrounding the hospital sale has come to a screeching halt after he was barred from accessing records from a related agency.

Ex-Hoboken cop Ed Mecka filed a lawsuit in the Hudson County Superior Court last week against Hudson Healthcare, Inc., (HHI) after his request for access to the organization’s records was blocked.

According to the complaint, Mecka filed an OPRA (Open Public Records Act) request to obtain materials from a July HHI Board of Directors meeting, including a list of attendees at the meeting, and a resolution passed by the board. Mecka’s request, however, was blocked by the HHI, who, according to the complaint, claimed that it was not a “public agency,” and therefore not subject to the Open Public Records Act.

Conflicts of Interest for Municipal Officials In New Jersey

Some of the requirements of the Local Government Ethics Law, set forth at N.J.S.A. 40A: 9-22.1 et seq., are relatively straightforward and easy to understand. Local public officials must file financial disclosure statements under N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.6, and members of independent authorities cannot do business with or appear before those authorities for a year after they leave the body under N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5(b).

However, perhaps the central concept of this law, enacted in 1991 to restore and preserve the public trust in local government, is far less clear. Exactly what type of interest must an official have in a given issue to create a conflict sufficient to prevent him or her from participating in any decisions concerning the matter?

UPDATE: APRIL 20, 2012, Mecka vs. Hudson Healthcare, Inc.

Excerpts from Mecka vs. Hudson Healthcare, Inc., filed April 10, 2012 Hudson County Superior Court by attorney Walter Luers, LLC, Clinton, New Jersey.  

N.J. Senate panel approves bill requiring for-profit hospitals to post financial information

As another bidding war over a struggling nonprofit hospital heats up in North Jersey, a Senate panel today took aim at the spread of for-profit hospitals by approving a bill that would require they disclose financial information to the public.

Any hospital that wants a share of the state "charity care" fund for treating uninsured patients would have to supply information detailing their operating budget, such as sources of income, its business holdings and salaries, and other information nonprofit entities are required to file with the IRS, according to bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen).

The state Department of Health and Senior Services would collect and post the information on its website, according to the bill, (S782).

UPDATE: MARCH 19, 2012, OPRA Request Filed with Hoboken University Medical Center’s Former Manager, Hudson Healthcare, Inc.

Attorney Richard Gutman replied to HUDSON HEALTHCARE, INC.’s denial of my February 24, 2012 OPRA request.  It is our legal position that the CITY OF HOBOKEN created the private non-profit HUDSON HEALTHCARE, INC. to manage HOBOKEN UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER for the HOBOKEN MUNICIPAL HOSPITAL AUTHORITY.   Supreme Court of New Jersey, The TIMES OF TRENTON PUBLISHING CORPORATION, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. LAFAYETTE YARD COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellant.

We are confident that, if necessary, the Courts will rule that the non-profit HUDSON HEALTHCARE, INC. is subject to the New Jersey Open Public Records Act.

Hoboken resident one of Fourteen new jersey health care providers arrested, charged with taking cash payments for patient referrals

A Hoboken resident is one of Thirteen New Jersey doctors and a nurse practitioner charged in a cash-for tests referral scheme for allegedly taking illegal kickback payments to refer patients to an Orange, N.J., medical testing facility, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Special Agent in Charge Tom O’Donnell announced.

This morning, more than 65 federal and local agents and officers led by HHS-OIG arrested the 14 health care practitioners, to whom radiology and diagnostic facility Orange Community MRI (“OCM”) allegedly paid monthly cash kickback payments in exchange for their referral of Medicare and Medicaid patients to OCM for testing services.

The defendants arrested this morning are scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court. OCM’s executive director, Chirag Patel, 36, of Warren, N.J., was arrested on Dec. 8, 2011, in connection with the scheme. He appeared that day before Judge Arleo and was released on a $750,000 bond.

Good buy, health care, Why are local hospitals becoming for-profit – and what are the consequences?

Within the span of 19 months, Hudson County residents have witnessed the sale of one of the local hospitals – Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus – and the pending sales of two others, Hoboken University Medical Center and Christ Hospital in Jersey City. In all three instances, the hospitals switched, or will switch, from nonprofit ownership to become for-profit entities.

These sales come just a few years after the closures of Greenville Hospital and St. Francis Hospital in Jersey City, and three years after Bayonne Medical Center also changed hands from nonprofit to for-profit ownership.