CtW Investment Group is pressing Prime Healthcare Services’ main landlord to address allegations that Prime’s hospitals are engaging in widespread upcoding, according to a CtW news release.
CtW, an adviser to pension funds affiliated with the unions belonging to the Change to Win coalition, wants Medical Properties Trust, Birmingham, Ala., to address the issue at its annual shareholders meeting on May 19. CtW said Medical Properties Trust should disclose the risk to the rent it receives from Prime regarding the allegations of upcoding related to diagnoses of malnutrition and septicemia. The allegations have been made in reports produced by one of Change to Win's affiliated unions, the Service Employees International Union-United Health Workers West, and by California Watch, an investigative journalism organization. Its latest report on Prime was published May 7.
Prime, Ontario, Calif., has consistently denied the allegations. The company maintains that its patient population, dominated by emergency department admissions and, especially for its Medicare patients, transfers from skilled-nursing facilities, is more prone to malnutrition and sepsis than the overall patient population. The latest allegations regarding septicemia are based on preliminary reports from the California Department of Public Health and the company is pointing out numerous mistakes in those reports to regulators, according to a Prime news release issued in response to the California Watch story.
CtW first raised questions about Prime's care and billing practices to Medical Properties Trust in February 2010. CtW also is leading a campaign against the re-election of three directors to the board of Community Health Systems, Franklin, Tenn.