Off topic, but interesting. In reviewing my server logs (which web
masters do regularly to see how visitors are using their sites) I came
across a Google. This search, "University of Washington" and "we're all
going to jail," returned about 5 hits. Besides my previous post, there was this:
We're All Going to Jail
Employee Advocate www.DukeEmployees.com May 3, 2004
The Seattle Times reported on a classic whistling-blowing
case. An employee repeatedly told management of illegal activity, but
he was completely ignored. Management does not always want to hear of
problems when there is money to be made. Ignoring the employee cost the
University of Washington (UW) $35 million in penalties, more than $25
million in legal fees, plus the loss of credibility.
In 1991, Mark Erickson was a billing coordinator at the nonprofit
doctors' group UW Physicians, earning a salary of $19,000. Two years
later he was assigned a project of backdating doctors comments on
records, to make them insurance billable.
Some of these cases were almost a year old. Mr. Erickson said "The
doctors would look up in the air for a minute and write (blood
pressure) 100 over 60, patient doing well." Some doctors complained
that they had never performed the procedures that they backdated.
He said that a co-worker asked a supervisor "Can we even be doing this? Isn't this fraud?"
Mr. Erickson warned administrators that Medicare and Medicaid
were being systematically overcharged, but no one wanted to hear it.
Tired of being stonewalled, Mr. Erickson wrote a letter of complaint in
1997 to the Office of Inspector General/Health and Human Services in
Washington, D.C. The FBI interviewed him, but did not follow up.
Once, his boss came back from a meeting with accountants and blurted, "We're all going to jail." She started bagging up documents and called for a special garbage pickup.
After his supervisor tried to get him to destroy evidence, Mr.
Erickson filed a lawsuit. In 1999, federal agents served a search
warrant on university billing offices and medical centers and seized
thousands of records.
In spite of the penalty, university officials have chosen to deny it to the grave. At a news conference on Friday, the officials cited "innocent mistakes."
Mr. Erickson will be awarded $7.25 million for his efforts in exposing fraud against the government.