LOS ANGELES—A federal jury convicted the owner of a medical clinic of healthcare fraud and money laundering for billing Medicare more than $3.4 million in the names of four physicians whose identities were stolen, the U.S. attorney's office announced. Prosecutors alleged Manuk Karapetyan, 46, submitted thousands of claims for more than 800 patients supposedly treated at a nonexistent clinic, USA Independent Medical Corp. Medicare paid Karapetyan $566,000 by the time the fraud was discovered, and he wired tens of thousands to accounts in his home country of Armenia, the U.S. attorney's office said in a news release. An investigation was triggered when the people listed as patients on the claims received perplexing statements from Medicare and complained to their doctors and Medicare. Karapetyan, who has been in custody since April 2009, faces a maximum sentence of 320 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced June 21.
Regionals: Jury convicts clinic owner
CHANDLER, Ariz.—Chandler Regional Medical Center unveiled a $135 million expansion project to expand its cardiac catheterization laboratory and add a five-story patient tower. The $125 million tower will add 100 beds and 30 intensive-care rooms to the 224-bed hospital. The Catholic Healthcare West-owned hospital will also expand emergency and medical surgical services and add six operating rooms as part of the project. Construction on the tower is expected to finish in July 2012. Expansion of the cardiac catheterization laboratory expansion is expected to cost $9.9 million and finish in July 2011.
OAKLAND, Calif.—The National Labor Relations Board has cleared the way for union elections at more than 30 healthcare facilities in Northern California, while withholding judgment on requests for union elections at another 30 or so. Nearly all of the elections are decertification ballots stemming from a bitter dispute between two rival healthcare unions: the massive Service Employees International Union and the rival upstart National Union of Healthcare Workers, whose leadership is composed of ousted SEIU leaders. The NUHW has filed dozens of petitions in the past year to have workers decertify their SEIU units and switch to the NUHW. The new group has had a handful of election successes, but most of its petitions have been blocked procedurally by the SEIU through charges filed with the national labor board. On March 2, the NLRB approved 31 election petitions at up to 50 different facilities in coming months, but another 32 election petitions are still being blocked by objections from the SEIU or NUHW. In dueling news releases after the decision was announced, both unions accused their opponents of attempting to cherry-pick elections where they think their chances are better, while blocking elections at facilities where they might be vulnerable.
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