Vermont has approved an amended certificate-of-need application from Fletcher Allen Health Care, Burlington, Vt., for a $364.2 million expansion project, but regulators will be watching the project closely. In approving the project, the state Department of Banking, Insurance Securities and Health Care Administration also placed 34 conditions on Fletcher Allen. Last month, the 529-bed hospital paid $1 million to state and federal authorities to settle allegations that former hospital officials had lied about the cost and scope of the project when it was initially approved in 2000 with a $173.4 million price tag. In return, authorities said they would not file criminal charges against Fletcher Allen. However, an investigation of the project, its cost overruns and the actions of former hospital executives is still ongoing. Former officials may face criminal and civil charges.
Under the CON approval, Fletcher Allen must not make changes or expand the project without approval from the department. The hospital also must file monthly financial reports about the project and attempt to recover damages and seek restitution from individuals who may have broken the law in connection to the project. -- by Tony Fong