Martin Shkreli inspired a lot of anger when he was up to the antics that earned him the sobriquet “pharma bro.” Now, even as he languishes in federal prison serving a seven-year term for securities fraud he’s inspired something else: The Shkreli Awards.
The Lown Institute began handing out the awards in 2018, recognizing the “top ten worst actors in health care from the past year.”
Not-for-profit hospitals and health systems earned four spots on the list for 2019, “showing exceptional prowess at profiteering and corruption,” according to a Lown news release.
Topping the list were the hospitals and systems that prompted a series of news stories because of their proclivity for suing their patients over unpaid bills. Among them was Ballad Health, whose tale Modern Healthcare’s Tara Bannow told in a series of stories. UVA Medical Center, Mary Washington Hospital and Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare were also cited as contributing to the problem.
Dignity Health took the No. 3 spot for using a technicality to stick an employee with a $900,000 medical bill for her premature baby.
The University of North Carolina Medical Center earned the No. 6 slot for pressuring “cardiologists to keep referring pediatric patients for surgery in-house despite disturbingly high mortality rates,” per Lown.
And the No. 9 spot went to Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, which “kept a vegetative patient on life support to boost transplant survival rates.”
In the spirit of full disclosure, Modern Healthcare Editor Emeritus Merrill Goozner was one of the judges assessing the various nominees.