Updated. Million Dollar Secret Attorney/Client Meeting Transcripts!

Broward Hospital District Shade Meeting Transcript – August 20, 2015

As the result of my public records request (click to see request), today I received a partial response in the form of the paper court reporter transcripts for a number of shade meetings in re:  Attorney/Client Meeting to discuss matters of litigation pending before the US District Court in which Broward Health is a Defendant in a False Claims Act Case. 

The transcripts were for the meetings held on:

  • June 4th, 2014
  • September 5th, 2014
  • October 22nd, 2014
  • December 15th, 2014
  • August 20th, 2015

Click here to download the first transcript (August 20th, 2015) here (9 megabyte PDF).

Click here to download the December 15th, 2014 transcript here (12 megabyte PDF)

Click here to download the October 22nd, 2014 transcript here (7 megabyte PDF)

Click here to download the September 5th, 2014 transcript here (8 megabyte PDF)

Click here to download the June 4th, 2014 transcript here (16 megabyte PDF)

I have not read the transcripts, nor have I confirmed what transcripts are missing but I wanted to post the first transcript as soon as possible.  All the transcripts that have been produced are now posted.

I am reliably told that the five transcripts represent all the shade meetings in this matter, however, there were apparently many one on one meetings between attorneys & Board members in a concerted effort to keep shade meeting comments to a minimum.  There are no minutes of these meetings and presumably the content of those meetings would be Broward Health attorney/client discussions thus not a subject for a public records request.

After I read & digest the content of the transcripts, I will post both my comments and analysis.

Stay tuned.

 

Dan Christensen’s Article – Must Read: Broward Health’s $70 million settlement leaves risk of criminal charges

Broward Health’s $70 million settlement leaves risk of criminal charges

 

By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org WhistleblowingDoctor

Court documents describe the massive healthcare fraud that led Broward Health to pay $69.5 million to settle a whistleblower’s lawsuit last week as an illegal “scheme of mutual enrichment” between the hospital system and its physicians.

Was it a criminal scheme?

Public Records Request #4 – Reilly v. North Broward Hospital District, et al.,

Sent: Wednesday, September 16, 2015 9:02 AM
Subject: Public Records Request #4 – Reilly v. North Broward Hospital District, et al., Case No. 10-60590 (S.D. Fla.)

September 16, 2015

Lynn Barrett, General Counsel
North Broward Hospital District
Broward Health Spectrum Office
1700 NW 49 Street,
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Re: Public Records Request #4 – Reilly v. North Broward Hospital District, et al., Case No. 10-60590 (S.D. Fla.)

Dear Ms. Barrett,

This letter is a public records request pursuant to the Public Records Act, Florida Statutes, Section 119 to allow the inspection and copying of public records. This request is also made pursuant to Art. 1, s. 24(a), Fla. Const. which establishes a constitutional right of access to any public record made or received in connection with the official business of any public body, officer, or employee of the state, or persons acting on their behalf.

YOU ARE CAUTIONED THAT THE FAILURE OF THE REQUESTEE TO FULLY COMPLY MAY RESULT, INTER ALIA, IN THE INSTITUTION OF LITIGATION, THE REQUEST FOR APPOINTMENT BY THE COURT OF AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW AND AN AWARD OF ATTORNEY’S FEES AND COSTS TO REQUESTOR’S LEGAL COUNSEL.

Please provide me electronic copies of the following records to Dan@BrwdHealth.com which as a result of the settlement of United States ex rel. Reilly v. North Broward Hospital District, et al., Case No. 10-60590 (S.D. Fla.) have now become public.

  1. The recorded and transcribed minutes of all shade meetings held in this matter by the Board of Broward Health.

As a corollary to the above matter and consistent with the public’s right to know and the public interest in the appropriate expenditure of their tax funds, please provide me electronic copies of the following records to Dan@BrwdHeath.com or alternatively, please let me know when the following records are available for my inspection.

  1. Copies of all invoices from Broward Health’s Fair Market Analysis contractor for 2014 through the date of this production.
  2. Copies of all Fair Market Value Analysis provided by Broward Health’s independent consultant to Broward Health for 2014 through the date of this production.

In previous public records requests, I have requested copies of physician service, employment and medical directorship contracts that have, in part, been produced with excluded scope of services and compensation sections.  These fundamental and basic elements of these contracts have been excluded by Broward Health asserting privilege for confidential and trade secret information.

I would argue that fair market value, by definition, cannot be a confidential or a trade secret and that the disclosure of the financial arrangements by contract for physician professional services by Broward Health is both necessary and in the public interest in light of the recent settlement.  It is noteworthy that this information is considered a public record by the Memorial system, as well as other public hospitals in Florida.  Therefore, please provide me electronic copies of the following records to Dan@BrwdHeath.com or alternatively, please let me know when the following records are available for my inspection.

  1. Complete copies of all executed contracts between Broward Health and physicians for professional or any other services for which a Fair Market Analysis was utilized for 2014 through the date of this production.

If you have a requested public record but claim a privilege which protects you from providing it pursuant to this public records request, A LOG SHOULD BE PROVIDED IDENTIFYING THE SPECIFIC DOCUMENT/ COMMUNICATION BEING WITHHELD, AND THE LEGAL BASIS FOR THE CLAIMED PRIVILEGE.

Please note that section 119.07(2)(a) of the Public Records Law provides that a person who has custody of a public record and who asserts that an exemption applies to a particular pubic record or part of such record shall delete or excise from the record only that portion of the record with respect to which an exemption has been asserted and validly applies, and such person shall produce the remainder of such record for inspection and examination.  This section further provides that if the person who has custody of a public record contends that the record or part of it is exempt from inspection, he shall state the basis of the exemption which he contends is applicable to the record, including the statutory citation to an exemption created or afforded by statute, and, if requested by the person seeking the right under this subsection to inspect, examine, or copy the record, he shall state in writing and with particularity the reasons for his conclusion that the record is exempt.

It is hereby requested that you do state in writing both the statutory citation to any exemption which you claim applicable to any requested record and the specific reasons for a conclusion that the requested record is exempt.

Also, please note that section 119.07(2)(C) prohibits the destruction of any of the requested records, including any which you claim are exempt, for a period of 30 days after the date on which you receive this written request.  If a civil action is instituted to enforce the Public Records Law with respect to the requested records within the 30-day period, you may not dispose of the records except by court order after notice to all affected parties.

As a matter of Florida law, unless the nature or volume of public records to be inspected or copied requires “extensive” use of information technology resources or “extensive” clerical or supervisory assistance, the special service charge is not authorized. If authorized due to the nature or volume of a request, the special service charge should not be routinely imposed, but should reflect the information technology resources or labor costs actually incurred by the agency. AGO 90-07. And see, AGOs 92-38, 86-69 and 84-81.  Moreover, the statute mandates that the special service charge be “reasonable.” See, Carden v. Chief of Police, 696 So. 2d 772, 773 (Fla. 2d DCA 1996), stating that an “excessive charge” under s. 119.07(1)(b), F.S., “could well serve to inhibit the pursuit of rights conferred by the Public Records Act.”

After inspection, I agree that I will compensate you for the actual cost of duplication of any of the records that I have requested.  If the nature or volume of the public records requested is such to require extensive use of information technology resources and/or extensive clerical and/or supervisory assistance by personnel of your office, I agree that I will compensate you for those costs that are reasonable as well, subject to the terms enumerated herein.  Before incurring any charges, please contact me and advise me of the actual cost basis of duplication and/or any necessary and reasonable staff research time.

I would appreciate confirmation that you have received this request and an estimated date of when I might receive and/or inspect the public records. Thank you in advance for your prompt consideration of my request. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Thank you for your kind attention to my request.

Florida Hospital District Agrees to Pay United States $69.5 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations

Justice News
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Florida Hospital District Agrees to Pay United States $69.5 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations

North Broward Hospital District, a special taxing district of the state of Florida that operates hospitals and other health care facilities in the Broward County, Florida, area, has agreed to pay the United States $69.5 million to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by engaging in improper financial relationships with referring physicians, the Justice Department announced today.

“The Department of Justice has long-standing concerns about improper financial relationships between health care providers and their referral sources, because those relationships can alter a physician’s judgment about the patient’s true health care needs and drive up health care costs for everybody,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “In addition to yielding a recovery for taxpayers, this settlement should deter similar conduct in the future and help make health care more affordable.”

“Our citizens deserve medical treatment uncorrupted by excessive salaries paid to physicians as a reward for the referral of business rather than the provision of the highest quality healthcare,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida.  “This office will be steadfast in continuing to devote all necessary resources to ensure that anyone rendering medical care does so for the sole benefit of the patient and in compliance with the law.”

“Improper financial rewards  given to physicians in exchange for patient referrals corrupts medical decision making and inflates health care costs,” said Special Agent in Charge Shimon R. Richmond of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).  “Our agency will continue to root out such behavior from our health care system.”

The settlement announced today resolved allegations that the hospital district provided compensation to nine employed physicians that exceeded the fair market value of their services.  The United States contended that these agreements violated the Stark Statute and the False Claims Act.  The Stark Statute restricts the financial relationships that hospitals may have with doctors who refer patients to them.

The allegations settled today arose from a lawsuit filed by a whistleblower, Dr. Michael Reilly, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.  Under the act, private citizens can bring suit on behalf of the government for false claims and share in any recovery.  Dr. Reilly will receive $12,045,655.51 from the recovery announced today.

This settlement illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and marks another achievement for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced in May 2009 by the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  The partnership between the two departments has focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud through enhanced cooperation.  One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act.  Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $25 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $16 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.

The case, United States ex rel. Reilly v. North Broward Hospital District, et al., Case No. 10-60590 (S.D. Fla.), was handled by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Florida and the HHS-OIG.  The claims settled by this agreement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.