House committee to review deaths, billing fraud at Long Island VA: 5 things to know

The House Veterans Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing Tuesday at Northport (N.Y.) Veterans Affairs Medical Center to review allegations of billing fraud and other unusual activity, according to The New York Times.

Here are five things to know about what the public hearing will address, as presented by The New York Times.

1. All five operating rooms were closed in mid-February at Long Island's only VA center. The ORs were closed because small black particles were falling from the air ducts, according to The New York Times. This event is what first drew attention to Northport VA.

2. The center faces allegations of widespread "telephone encounter billing fraud," according to The New York Times report. Documents collected from whistle-blowers and others indicate nurses at Northport VA were told to cold call veterans, but adjust records so that it look like the veterans had called the center so they could bill insurance for the calls.

3. The telephone fraud aimed to help offset an $11 million hole in the medical center's budget. Nurses allegedly raised $1 million from calls to 200 veterans. The medical center allegedly had a goal of calling 2,000 veterans, according to the report.

4. Two deaths at the center will also be under review. The first is the suicide of Peter Kaisen, a 76-year-old veteran, who killed himself Aug. 21 in the Northport VA parking lot. The second is the death of Anthony Cox, a 51-year-old veteran who worked at Northport VA and was participating in its drug rehabilitation program. Mr. Cox's reported cause of death is fentanyl compound overdose, according to the report. He died on the hospital campus. His death is under review because Northport VA did not report it as a sentinel event and for two months allegedly continued to make notes in his chart as if he were still alive, according to the report.

5. Northport VA Medical Center did not provide a comment on the particulars that will be reviewed during the public hearing. Instead it provided The New York Times with the following statement: "[W]e look forward to participating in Tuesday's hearing and providing the committee with information about the high-quality care provided at this facility."

Read the full report here.


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