Earlier this year we noted a story about an LA hospital caught dumping a paraplegic homeless patient on the sidewalk without a wheelchair. At the time, everyone assumed the hospital was stuck in a bad situation—they couldn’t keep a patient forever after treating him, and he had no physical address, so what were they supposed to do? It turns out incidents like this, which one LA-based reader said “happens all the time,” may not be so ‘innocent’ after all:
Hospitals in Los Angeles and Orange counties submitted phony Medicare and Medi-Cal bills for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of homeless patients—including drug addicts and the mentally ill—recruited from downtown’s Skid Row, state and federal authorities allege.
City attorneys began investigating after receiving reports back in 2006 that hospitals were dumping homeless patients on Skid Row streets. What they found, they say, was that some hospitals were using conditions such as dehydration, yeast infection, and exhaustion as reasons for keeping homeless patients in beds for “as long as three days” in order to maintain full patient loads and collect money from the government.
Agents arrested Rudra Sabaratnam, CEO of City of Angels hospital, and Estill Mitts, operator of a Skid Row health assessment center, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. They were in federal custody and were scheduled to be arraigned Monday.
The city attorney’s office said it filed a lawsuit against the corporate owners of the three hospitals — along with Sabaratnam, several doctors and others — in connection with the alleged scheme.
Representatives of the hospitals did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment. Los Angeles Metropolitan and the Tustin hospital are owned by Pacific Health Corp., and Los Angeles-based Intercare Health Systems owns City of Angels.
“FBI: LA hospitals used homeless in medical fraud” [Associated Press]