By popular demand I am posting to the blog again. The Dr. Kearney saga is still active, but as most everyone is fairly aware, the university lawyers, rather than attempting to resolve the issues at hand, have opted to use their all too familiar delay tactics, in hope that this case would either fade into oblivion or Dr. Kearney would run out of money. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have always viewed this fear of going to court as a statement of guilt. At any rate, from what little I know of the ongoing proceedings: a) Dr. Kearney’s lawyer has requested depositions from key players in this case, b) the university lawyers have done everything they can to try and keep these people from being deposed, c) the courts came back and said that these people must be made available for depositions, and d) the university is very slowly making them available. Meanwhile Dr. Kearney continues on in his highly restricted capacity as a university professor. To what I am sure is the ire of at least the UK president and his attorneys, Dr. Kearney presses on maintaining his surgical skills through volunteering at Lexington’s Surgery on Sundays, and monitoring UK-College of Medicine activities through his many contacts and supporters within the university.
A couple of relevant topics that have arisen within the past 6 months that might be worth mentioning include:
1. An update on the Hazard Cardiology cover-up
The information I present below was sent to me by a frequent reader of this blog, and I believe much of it might also be found on the Dr. Kearney Facebook page mentioned above. Furthermore, we have touched on it a bit in previous blog posts and comment sections. The relevance it has to the Dr. Kearney case rests in Dr. Kearney’s claims that he has been targeted by the hospital administration and its lawyers not for some behavioral problem that they have fully endorsed for the past 26 years, but rather for his attempts to investigate a history of money mismanagement by the hospital and KMSF administration.
The North Fork Valley Health Center (NFVHC), Hazard, Kentucky is a Federally Qualified Health Center. NFVHC also has the distinction of being designated as a Rural Health Center. This means that North Fork Valley Health Center receives additional payments via Federal Medicare and Medicaid programs. The Federal Statute is ‘well intentioned’ to insure adequate reimbursement so that rural health care entities could keep their doors open providing comprehensive care in physician shortage areas with populations of “high financial risk” patients. The statute also brings the designated entity under strict Federal guidelines regarding reporting, quality assurance, as well as ‘anti-kickback’ rules.
It turns out that in addition to these supplemental Medicare and Medicaid dollars, North Fork Valley Health Clinic partnered with UK Healthcare and was/is receiving clinician salary support and other clinic support monies from UK Healthcare to expand/support the clinic
operations. On its face there is nothing wrong with this arrangement. However, UK-Healthcare EVPHA, Dr. Michael Karpf provided these funding sources with no intention of requiring these monies to be repatriated to UK Healthcare, and there is something very wrong (in fact from everything I have been told illegal) with that. This was/is a quid pro quo arrangement with the expectation that Hazard Appalachian Regional Hospital and the NFVHC will refer complex patients to UK-Healthcare Chandler Medical Center, Lexington where the hospital could reap the downstream revenue for its bottom line. Guess what? This type of quid pro quo agreement is a violation of Federal Anti-kickback statutes, or so sayeth the lawyers.
We already know how the Hazard Cardiology component (probably just the tip of the iceberg) of this arrangement worked out. UK Healthcare and KMSF (essentially one entity) paid a 1 million dollar legal fee to a Washington, DC law firm and 4 million dollars to the Feds for what was described as electronic medical record billing issues. As noted in a previous post, this was an out and out lie, to hide billing/documentation fraud and the performance of unnecessary procedures. UK Healthcare has since separated from Hazard Cardiology, but remains firmly entrenched in NFVHC. In 2014, the NFVHC owed UK Healthcare around 12 million dollars in salary support and clinic operation loans. It is rumored that at one point, retired CFO Murray Clark was looking for a way to get these monies off the books. It is further rumored that UK Healthcare has similar arrangements with the Lifepoint hospital system and adjacent clinic operations. No telling how much money has been given or what the arrangements were for loan payback or patient referrals. It would be interesting to know if these agreements might also violate the Anti-kickback Provision of the Stark law. The bottom line being, there is mounting evidence to support the claim that these actions against Dr. Kearney stem not from his years of fully condoned and signed off on “misbehavior”, but rather his requested audit of KMSF at that April 24, 2015 College of Medicine Faculty Council meeting. If you will recall, that audit request elicited a response from Dr. Karpf that multiple people at this meeting interpreted as a ‘threat’ to Dr. Kearney, and a response from the UK General Council (Professor/Adjunct Instructor Thro) that ‘this stuff was none of their business’.
2. Along these same lines, there is this article entitled: “Whistleblower Helps Indiana, U.S. Recover $18 Million In Medicaid Funds”
This article by Kurt Niland, relates a very similar situation to that described above. Rather than interpreting it I will simply quote the first 3 paragraphs of the article.
“A whistleblower lawsuit accusing Indiana University Health Inc. and Health Net Inc. of engaging in an illegal kickback scheme has ended with an $18 million settlement, federal and state officials announced April 27.
The lawsuit, originally filed by Dr. Judith Robinson under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, alleged Indiana University Health provided Health Net with an interest-free line of credit in part to coax Health Net to refer its obstetrics and gynecology patients to IU Health’s Methodist Hospital.
The whistleblower suit claims this scheme violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and the federal and state False Claims Act. The state’s involvement in the complaint was tied to Medicaid beneficiaries, which the kickback scheme allegedly targeted. The Medicaid program is jointly funded by the U.S. government and the states.”
Does this sound familiar or what! I can see why KMSF, hospital administration and the UK lawyers are fighting this idea of a public audit of KMSF and hospital money management. It is also becoming increasingly clear why so many of the central figures involved in this Dr. Kearney case (Dr. Karpf, Dr. de Beer, Dr. Boulanger, Dr. Moliterno) are running for cover. Interestingly, I also heard through the grapevine, that Dr. Boulanger, who was a key figure in the organization of the kangaroo MSEC court that defined Dr. Kearney’s behavior problem and exiled him from the university, has himself been recently disciplined at his new working residence in Cleveland, where he putatively roughed up one of his coworkers. I can only guess that he believes it is okay to beat up on people in the workplace, just as long as you do not use foul language while doing it.
And so the beat goes on. I will try to be a bit more diligent about monitoring the blog, but keep in mind that it is summer and the golf course beckons. Should anyone wish to discuss a relevant controversial issues of interest on this blog, feel free to email me (email@example.com).