Tenet Healthcare Corp., Santa Barbara, Calif., said the HHS' inspector general's office will conduct a national audit of Tenet's Medicare outlier payments. The inspector general's office sent Tenet a letter dated yesterday seeking a meeting to plan the audit, said Judy Holtz, a spokeswoman for the office. The audit, which could take nine to 12 months to complete, would try to determine if the for-profit hospital chain's outlier payments were proper under Medicare rules. A fiscal intermediary requested the audit within the last month, before a stock analyst questioned Tenet's reliance on outlier payments to fuel profit growth, Holtz said. The audit is not related to a separate federal investigation of two physicians who practice at, but are not employed by, Tenet's 188-bed Redding (Calif.) Medical Center, she said. Tenet Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Barbakow said in a written statement that the company is cooperating with the audit and is confident its hospitals have obeyed Medicare rules. Tenet also said it plans to provide more information about its outlier payments and has scheduled a conference call for investors after the stock exchanges close tomorrow. -- by Vince Galloro
HHS to begin audit of Tenet's outlier payments
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