Criminal investigation of Tenet hospitals: 5 things to know

Four of Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare's hospitals in metro Atlanta are involved in a criminal investigation, according to an Atlanta Business Chronicle report.

Here are five things to know about the investigation.

1. The following Georgia hospitals are involved in the investigation: Atlanta Medical Center; South Fulton Medical Center, which consolidated with Atlanta Medical Center in 2013; North Fulton Regional Medical Center in Roswell; and Spalding Regional Medical Center in Griffin.

2. The criminal investigation arose out of a civil lawsuit filed under the qui tam, or whistle-blower, provision of the False Claims Act. The lawsuit alleges the hospitals paid illegal kickbacks to clinics that referred undocumented pregnant patients to them for Medicaid-paid deliveries. Undocumented patients are not eligible for regular Medicaid coverage. However, they typically qualify for emergency medical assistance when they deliver their babies. 

3. The criminal investigation dates back to 2012 when Tenet received a subpoena from the Department of Health and Human Services in Atlanta requesting documents. The investigation centers on the relationship some of the for-profit operator's hospitals had with Hispanic Medical Management. The Tenet hospitals contracted with HMM for translation, marketing, management and Medicaid eligibility determination services, according to the report.

4. In 2014, federal investigators filed criminal charges against two people involved in the kickback scheme, a former owner of HMM and a former employee of a Tenet hospital, according to the report. On April 10, the DOJ informed Tenet that four of its hospitals had become targets of the criminal investigation, according to the report.

5. On May 6, Tenet received a grand jury subpoena from the Department of Justice seeking additional documents regarding the hospitals involved in the investigation. Tenet told the Atlanta Business Chronicle it intends to respond to the subpoena quickly.

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