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Dignity Health loses moral compass, settles overcharge scandal for $37 million

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Hospital chain blames federal regulatons for overcharging Medicare.

The San Francisco-based Dignity Health hospital chain has agreed to pay a $37 million settlement to clear up allegations that they overcharged patients between 2006 and 2010.

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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
11/6/2014 (7 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Dignity Health, settlement, moral compass, Catholic

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Dignity Health, a chain of 13 hospitals that was built by the Catholic Church and supported with Catholic money, has settled out of court following claims by a whistleblower from within the organization that they routinely overcharged Medicare. This is what happens when an institution loses its moral compass.

According to whistleblower Kathleen Hawkins, the hospital chain often made false and inflated Medicare claims between 2006 and 2010. Although the chain was technically under the tutelage of the Catholic Church, its board of directors had already grown to include venture capitalists and others whose interest was to generate profits, not heal the sick.

Pray that those who make our healthcare decisions do so guided by conscience.

This is what happens when a Catholic hospital, which ought to be supervised by the Church, allows secular staff to comprise its board and manage the facility for financial gain. Instead of running the facility for the benefit of people, it is managed for the benefit of profit.

In a way, this is a microcosm of all that is wrong with the United States, which particularly under the Obama administration has lost its moral compass. People are regarded as sources of profit, useful for their money and their votes, and otherwise treated as a liability to the system.

This is also why healthcare should be, and remain, Catholic especially when facilities are built by the Church to serve as ministries. To take a Church ministry, remove it from the Church and hand it over to profiteers, counts as an egregious betrayal.

Dignity Health admits no wrongdoing and attributed the unnecessary admissions to the hospital for outpatient-eligible treatments and overbilling to "unclear federal standards." Dignity Health may have a point. Healthcare should not be the business of the federal government or politicians. Instead, care of the body is very close to care of the spirit and should be facilitated by the Church as a pillar of its mission.

Nonetheless, this is a mark of shame for Dignity Health and its board which are responsible for the direction of the hospitals. Despite the lack of admission of guilt, it is a matter of integrity that should not be applied in legal terms, but considered under the moral teaching of the Church. Those responsible presided over a debacle in which serious errors were committed. Resignations should follow, regardless of any legal outcome.

Under a 2009 law intended to protect whistleblowers, Kathleen Harris will share in about $6 million of the settlement. Since 2009, the federal government has recovered about $23 billion in false claims.

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