These days, Obamacare is a favorite target as being responsible for the soaring cost of health care. But if the fraud alleged in a lawsuit unsealed in December is true, critics should point their fingers at for-profit hospital organizations too.
Two Charlotte-area emergency room doctors allege in a lawsuit now joined by the U.S. Justice Department that two area hospitals and the for-profit company that owns them, Health Management Associates, offered them illegal kickbacks to order unnecessary tests and admit more patients to increase corporate revenues.
HMA denies the charges, with its lawyer, Kirk Ogrosky, describing HMA protocols as good practice and good management.
Still, HMA was the subject of a 60 Minutes investigation in 2012 where a number of doctors and other former HMA employees raised similar complaints, alleging that the company aggressively pressured doctors to admit a certain percentage of patients from the emergency room, regardless of whether it was medically necessary.
The two area doctors making charges would be in a position to know the situation: Thomas Mason was Mooresvilles Lake Norman Regional Medical Center emergency department medical director from 1997 to 2010. Steven Folstad was medical director at Statesvilles Davis Regional Medical Center emergency department from 2000 to 2008. Both said their groups contracts were terminated after they refused to accept illegal cash inducements or be pressured to meet benchmarks to maximize profits.
If what the two and the Justice Department claim is true, such actions are pure greed. They are reprehensible and costly to U.S. taxpayers and should be roundly punished.
Do change that dial!
Its an election year, which guarantees at least one thing: Politicians will be invading your television with 30-second ads. And in North Carolina especially, it wont just be politicians; it will be outside special interest groups with deep pockets and skin in the game.
The conservative group Americans For Prosperity is currently running $1.4 million of ads across the state hitting Sen. Kay Hagan for her support of Obamacare. Republican Thom Tillis is spending $300,000 to air ads in Asheville, the Triad and Wilmington, arguing that Hagan enabled President Obamas worst ideas.
Outside groups have already spent $9.7 million on this race. Such groups from all political bents are expected to try to steer the outcomes of races for the N.C. Supreme Court and other seats as well.
Both parties know ads hitting ones opponent usually work. Theres nothing wrong with informing voters about your opponents record, or distinguishing your views from theirs. But many such ads stretch the truth, and pretty much all of them lack context.
Whats a voter to do? Not all voters will work to understand the nuances and the truth. But we have faith that you, dear editorial readers, are the kind of folks who will. Look for truth-squading of ads from the Observer and other outlets, educate yourself and at a bare minimum know that much of what youre hearing is not as black and white as it sounds.
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