Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Painkillers. A wheelchair. A concert by Faith Hill. Which of these is covered by Medicare? All of them, according to the people at HealthSouth. Some people say music is a tonic to them, but Medicare isn't buying HealthSouth's defense of some artist billing.
According to a newspaper in Birmingham, the health agency booked Hill, Reba McEntire, Amy Grant, Brooks and Dunn, KC and the Sunshine Band, and the country band Alabama for management meetings, then billed Medicare for the cost. McEntire and Alabama were also booked for annual management meetings at Disney World between 1996 and 2001, then billed to Medicare.
A $325 million settlement announced by the Justice Department in December said HealthSouth acknowledged improperly billing Medicare for lavish entertainment and other expenses. But this is the first mention of who performed at the meetings.
Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy is currently on trial on charges he directed the apparently massive accounting fraud that existed at the company. He has defended the meetings at Disney World as providing because managers shared cost-savings ideas. If we didn't understand before, it is becoming increasingly clear why HealthSouth became a target of government investigation. [bm]