The Service Employees International Union wants the attorney general of New Jersey to force a sale of five Prime Healthcare Services hospitals in response to a federal lawsuit against the hospital chain alleging it fraudulently billed Medicare.
SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West say Prime's five hospitals in the state should be sold to protect “their charitable assets and protect the quality and accessibility” of services as the system faces a lawsuit that could potentially affect its Medicare participation, according to a letter from the union.
The U.S. Justice Department joined a lawsuit in May that claims Prime, which owns 43 hospitals in 14 states, billed Medicare for patients admitted as inpatients when they should have been outpatients on “observation” status.
If Prime is found to have violated the law, it could be barred from receiving Medicare funding, dealing a “serious financial blow to the company and compromise its ability to provide care at the New Jersey hospitals,” the SEIU-UHW said.
In a statement denying the allegations, Prime spokesman Fred Ortega said, “This letter is simply the latest attempt by SEIU-UHW to publicly smear Prime Healthcare as part of its ongoing corporate campaign to extract bargaining concessions from Prime hospitals.”
The SEIU-UHW is currently in the midst of a labor dispute with Prime that involves 1,300 California employees. Last year, the union helped block the sale of the Daughters of Charity Health System in California to Prime.