Healthcare Business News

Johns Hopkins to pay $190 million to settle suits over pelvic exam photos, and other news

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: July 26, 2014 - 12:01 am ET

A “rogue” gynecologist's secret use of tiny cameras to record hundreds of videos and photos of his patients' sex organs has led to a $190 million settlement with about 8,000 women and girls, lawyers said last week.

Dr. Nikita Levy was fired after 25 years with Johns Hopkins Health System in Baltimore in February 2013 after a female co-worker alerted authorities about a pen-like camera he wore around his neck.

He committed suicide days later, as a federal investigation led to roughly 1,200 videos and 140 images stored on computers in his home.

“All of these women were brutalized by this,” said their lead attorney, Jonathan Schochor. “Some of these women needed counseling, they were sleepless, they were dysfunctional in the workplace, they were dysfunctional at home, they were dysfunctional with their mates. This breach of trust, this betrayal—this is how they felt.”

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The preliminary settlement approved by a judge is one of the largest on record in the U.S. involving sexual misconduct by a physician. It all but closes a case that never produced criminal charges but seriously threatened the reputation of the prominent medical center.

Johns Hopkins said insurance will cover the settlement, which “properly balances the concerns of thousands of plaintiffs with obligations the health system has to provide ongoing and superior care to the community.” —Associated Press

Class-action suit filed over Tenn. Medicaid backlog

Tennessee residents who faced lengthy delays when they applied for Medicaid are now suing the state for failing to process their applications in a timely manner.

The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Nashville, claims that the backlog developed when the state began requiring residents to apply for the TennCare program through the federal health insurance marketplace, which was not designed to process Medicaid applications.

The class-action suit is backed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Health Law Program and the Tennessee Justice Center. The organizations filed the suit on behalf of residents they say have been left without coverage because of the processing lag.

A spokeswoman for the TennCare program said the agency did not see the suit until it was released to the media and could not comment.

The problems began Jan. 1, when local health department offices stopped accepting Medicaid applications and began directing patients to the federal exchange, said Sam Brooke, staff attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Although he stopped short of saying the state made the move to oppose Obamacare's implementation, he said many Southern states have put up significant resistance to the Affordable Care Act. —Beth Kutscher

Follow Beth Kutscher on Twitter: @MHbkutscher

Baptist Memorial posts loss on weaker volume

Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp., a 14-hospital system in Memphis, Tenn., posted a bigger-than-expected net loss for the nine-month period ended June 30 as its patient volume and payer mix declined.

The system reported financial results for the month of June as well as the first nine months of its fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Baptist had budgeted for a 1% increase in discharges and a 3.3% increase in revenue per discharge for the first nine months of its fiscal year. Instead, it saw flat patient volume and a 0.4% decrease in revenue per patient. Its salary and benefit costs per discharge also increased 5.4%, instead of the 3.8% budgeted.

As a result, the system reported a $124.3 million operating loss for the nine months instead of the $20.7 million operating loss it had forecast. After adding gains from its investments, Baptist's net loss was $46.3 million on $1.4 billion in revenue, compared with a surplus of $43.4 million on revenue of $1.4 billion during the year-ago same period.

“Our balance sheet continues to be strong and we have a solid and stable market share,” the system said in a written statement. “Our financial challenges are on trend with what hospitals are experiencing nationwide. High-deductible insurance plans have affected patient volumes in our affiliated hospitals and physician practices.”

Baptist said it is implementing a systemwide EHR with an estimated cost of $200 million and is funding several construction projects. —Beth Kutscher

Follow Beth Kutscher on Twitter: @MHbkutscher

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