ER docs win legal fight
* Emergency room doctors in Minot, N.D., last week won a round in their legal fight with Trinity Health, Minot, over charges that the doctors breached their contracts by refusing to work in Trinity's ER after the system closed nearby Unimed Medical Center in June 2001. The state Supreme Court said a district court judge erred when he ruled that North Central Emergency Services breached its contract with Trinity and remanded the case back to court for a jury trial. The doctors' group contended that Trinity effectively terminated the contract when it closed Unimed and sought $1.9 million in damages, saying the transfer to Trinity forced them into different shifts and duties.
Study: State programs behind
* The federal government has grown increasingly effective at Medicare fraud recovery, but state Medicaid programs lag behind, according to two studies released last week. In the case of Medicare fraud recoveries, the federal government's return on investment improved to nearly 9-to-1 in 2001 from 8-to-1 in 2000, according to a study by Jack Meyer, president of New Directions for Policy, Washington. Medicare fraud recoveries grew 71% to $1.2 billion in 2001, while enforcement costs increased 6.3% to about $72.8 million. State Medicaid fraud collections totaled only $43 million in 2001.
System settles for $2 million
* Albert Einstein Healthcare Network, Philadelphia, and its employed physicians will pay nearly $2 million to settle allegations largely related to billing for teaching physicians' services. The settlement, announced last month, is part of a national investigation, Physicians at Teaching Hospitals. The system allegedly billed for services as if they were provided by teaching physicians but lacked documentation to support those claims. The system settled while denying the allegations.