Senator Seeks Inquiry Into Tenet Hospital

From Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Chuck E. Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, has requested an investigation into charges that physicians at a hospital owned by Tenet Healthcare Corp. performed unnecessary surgeries and the facility billed the federal government for them.

Grassley (R-Iowa) made the request Friday to the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Blue Cross of California recently announced it would no longer cover nonemergency bypass surgeries at the Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, Calif., after an independent review of 23 operations found that 13 had not been medically necessary.

This year, Santa Barbara-based Tenet paid a $54-million settlement to the Justice Department for allegedly performing unnecessary cardiac procedures and surgeries at another one of its hospitals, Redding Medical Center. The procedures were billed to the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs.

In addition, the state Department of Health Services announced Monday that its audit of Redding Medical Center had found the hospital was overpaid nearly $12 million through government-funded health programs. The hospital has repaid $8.9 million of the excess payments, the department said.

Tenet said Blue Cross had no right to end its contract with Doctors Medical Center based on what Tenet called "scant information."

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