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WakeMed CEO urges employee calm through ongoing legal dispute

Posted January 20, 2013

WakeMed

— In the midst of fine-tuning a settlement to end a federal investigation into fraudulent Medicare billing practices at WakeMed, CEO Bill Atkinson tried Friday to put employees at ease about the ongoing legal case.

"WakeMed has learned from its mistakes and has put processes, procedures and additional training in place to ensure the mistakes do not occur again," Atkinson said in the email. "Please do not allow this issue to alter your opinion of WakeMed or distract you from your work."

Federal investigators have accused the Raleigh hospital of routinely billing Medicare for inpatient stays by people who had undergone cardiac treatments, even if they were discharged the same day as the treatment and never spent the night. Federal court documents also allege that WakeMed physician orders to discharge patients were frequently overwritten so Medicare could be billed.

Atkinson said in his email that he couldn't comment on the "active legal case," but said last month that the hospital never intended to defraud the government.

Prosecutors worked with WakeMed to iron out a $8 million settlement that would defer prosecution on charges of making material false statements relating to health care matters and aiding and abetting for two years. The agreement allowed that, if WakeMed complied with the terms of the settlement during that two-year deferment, the charges would be dismissed.

On Thursday, however, U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle declined to sign off on the settlement agreement and asked prosecutors why WakeMed and some of its employees weren't indicted. He delayed a decision in the case until Feb. 5.

Atkinson told employees that WakeMed is working diligently to provide the information Boyle needs to agree to the settlement.

32 Comments

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  • soyousay Jan 22, 10:53 a.m.

    I'D urge the owners of wake med ..

    aren't any but it is the Board of Directors (hand picked one and all) responsibility to stop it..whether their lawyer(s) have pointed this out or not, they have a fiduciary (legal) stake in this.

  • soyousay Jan 22, 10:50 a.m.

    Just wondering what doctors, staff, etc are involved...

    the findings including case management and some leadership types. The doctors orders were countermanded and "adjusted" to meet the billing needs by the wakemed staff. The Heart Center was a prized revenue center for the system and the numbers were poured over constantly. There is no way low level staff (case management) dreamed this up even if they corrupt the process. No doubt it went to and came from the top--CFO included. Remember too that Wake Cardiology refused to join Wake and went instead with Rex, setting off Wild Bill on the fool's errand (and cost) of trying to buy Rex.

  • wildpig777 Jan 22, 8:37 a.m.

    I'D urge the owners of wake med to fire all the affected areas of mis management and corruption and start with new personell. when joe citizen commits crime he goes to jail when wake med steals from the tax payer- nothing happens. i'd say thats business as usual in nc.

  • Cock a doodle doo Jan 22, 8:25 a.m.

    Several years back I had an accident and had to go to WakeMed. Next thing I know I have an outrageous bill, with all kinds of line items I never received, including a room! I battled them on that for over a year, and they sent it to collections. It took almost one more year to get it cleared up.

    Anyways, I know for a fact they are misbilling; but what is more interesting to me is how rapidly they have grown, trying to monopolize all health care in the area.

  • vincentwilliam794 Jan 22, 8:22 a.m.

    Just wondering what doctors, staff, etc are involved.

  • imtiredofit Jan 21, 6:15 p.m.

    A while back Wake Med attempted to buy out REX Hospital, maybe now Wake Med's punishment for defrauding the U.S. Medicare system should be that Wake Med would have to be absorbed by Rex Healthcare and the Wake Med board and all the officers be dismissed.

  • jmfybs1 Jan 21, 6:07 p.m.

    I wonder if the judge noticed that the finances required for WakeMed's (and Dr Atkinson's) empire building could not come simply from the employee benefits that have been reduced since Dr Atkinson arrived from New Hanover.

  • buford Jan 21, 3:33 p.m.

    I said this in a post on a previous article...three years ago WakeMed was broke...in the red...now they are flourishing... buying up hospitals and private practices like crazy...wonder where the $ came from???

  • soyousay Jan 21, 3:12 p.m.

    About now, some enterprising journalist type should compare and contrast what Bill did to New Hanover immediately before coming to Wake

  • soyousay Jan 21, 3:10 p.m.

    Then Billy says no one was fired or reprimanded for this little piccadillo...no kidding...fire or remimand someone for doing what is expected and likely encouraged = disgruntled employee = whistleblower

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