Former Shelby County Hospital CFO sentenced in EHR incentive case
TYLER, TX (News Release) - TYLER, Texas – The former Chief Financial Officer of Shelby Regional Medical Center has been sentenced to federal prison in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
Joe White, 68, of Cameron, Texas, pleaded guilty on Nov. 12, 2014 to making a false statement and was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider. White was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $4,483,089.09 to Medicare's Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program.
According to information presented in court, White was the Chief Financial Officer for Shelby Regional Medical Center in Center, Texas, in addition to other hospitals owned and operated by Dr. Tariq Mahmood. White oversaw the implementation of electronic health records for the hospital and was responsible for attesting to the meaningful use of electronic health records in order to qualify to receive incentive payments under Medicare's EHR Incentive Program. On Nov. 20, 2012, White knowingly made a false statement to Medicare falsely representing that the hospital was a meaningful user of electronic health records, when the hospital did not meet the meaningful use requirements. As a result, Shelby Regional Medical Center received $785,655.00 from Medicare. In total, hospitals owned by Mahmood were paid over $16 million under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. White was indicted by a federal grand jury on Jan. 22, 2014.
"The granting of EHR funds to individual and institutional providers was intended to modernize medical record storage and access. Unfortunately, there are individuals and institutions like Mr. White and his hospital whose only intent for EHR funds was to enrich themselves," said Mike Fields, Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas region's HHS – Office of Inspector General.
"I agree with SAC Fields," said U.S. Attorney Bales. "The EHR Incentive Program was designed to enhance the delivery of excellent medical care to all Americans and especially for those citizens who live in underserved, rural areas like Shelby County. There is no doubt that Mr. White understood that purpose and yet, he intentionally decided to steal taxpayer monies and in the process, undermine and abuse this important program."
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), the Texas Office of the Attorney General – Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (OAG-MFCU), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth C. McGurk and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel C. Kummerfeld.
Any individuals with knowledge of these or other health care fraud violations are encouraged to contact the Department of Health and Human Services' fraud hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS (447-8477).