Former owners of 64-bed Bayview Hospital and Mental Health System, Chula Vista, Calif., allegedly defrauded Medicare of about $8 million from 1997 to 1999, according to a civil lawsuit filed by the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego. The lawsuit names former Bayview Chairman Robert Bourseau, former CEO Rudra Sabaratnam and their companies RIB Medical Management and Navatkuda. Medicare cost reports for the hospital allegedly claimed $5 million in interest payments, $1.5 million in legal fees, $1.2 million in management fees and $400,000 in lease expenses that were never incurred. Bayview entered a lending agreement with now-bankrupt National Century Financial Enterprises, Dublin, Ohio, in 1994 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1996. It was purchased out of bankruptcy in 2000 by Adventist Health, Roseville, Calif., and renamed Paradise Valley Hospital Bayview Behavioral Health Campus. At deadline, Bourseau and Sabaratnam could not be reached for comment.
In other legal news, two San Antonio physician groups and their management company, all affiliated with 22-hospital Christus Health, Irving, Texas, agreed to pay a combined $1.4 million to resolve civil whistleblower allegations that they improperly billed Medicare for physician evaluations. The lawsuit against the management firm, Primary CareNet of Texas, and the physician groups, Health Texas Medical Group and Solomon Anthony Clinic, was filed by former Primary CareNet CFO Timothy Ohman in 2001. A Christus spokeswoman said the system was an investor in the organizations, which have separate governing boards, and was not party to the litigation or accused of any wrongdoing. According to the system's 1999 tax return, Christus owned 94.5% of Health Texas Medical Group and 100% of Primary CareNet and Solomon Anthony Clinic. Primary CareNet denied wrongdoing and said it cooperated with the government investigation, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Glen MacTaggart. -- by Mark Taylor