Tenet Healthcare Corp., Santa Barbara, Calif., said its corporate office and Tenet subsidiaries that own seven hospitals in Southern California received subpoenas seeking documents related to its physician relocation agreements since 1995. The administrative subpoenas were issued by the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles. Separately, Tenet said it expects a federal grand jury investigating physician relocation agreements at its 311-bed Alvarado Hospital Medical Center, San Diego, to indict the hospital, and possibly Tenet, later this week. Alvarado's CEO, Barry Weinbaum, already has been indicted on charges that he authorized $10 million in kickback payments to physicians who relocated to Alvarado's area. Weinbaum denies the charges, Tenet said. In general, Tenet said it believes its corporate policy on physician relocation agreements "is entirely appropriate under the law." The policy was adopted in 1996, Tenet said.
The separate investigations into physician agreements join a host of other federal investigations into the relatively high Medicare outlier payments the company received from 1999 to 2002. On Jan. 1, 2003, Tenet adopted a new outlier policy that severely restricted its payments. Tenet owns and operates 114 hospitals. -- by Vince Galloro