Wednesday, March 31, 2010

PR spin extraordinare

I love this one from the PR annals, one that might be called "Well we're knee-deep in elephant dung, but I swear to you we don't own an elephant."

Tuomey Healthcare System is in the small city of Sumter, a little less than an hour's drive east of Columbia. It was sued, first by a whistle-blower and then by the federal government, alleging Medicare fraud and that it had an improper financial relationship with some of its doctors.

The verdict came in yesterday. Here's what the hosptial system put on its Web site.

Tuomey Wins
March 30, 2010

In a case where the Federal Government sought close to $300 million in damages, the jury unanimously decided that Tuomey Healthcare System did not submit any false claims and awarded the government nothing. Relator Dr. Michael Drakeford will also receive no financial award.

Although the jury did find that Tuomey violated the Stark Law, there were no false claims. Therefore, there was no Medicare fraud. The government has until April 15 to respond to Tuomey’s motion to dismiss the government’s remaining claims.

“Tuomey is extremely pleased with the jury’s decision,” said Tuomey President & CEO Jay Cox. “It was always our intention to provide the best healthcare services to the Sumter community. ”

Wow, read that and you'd think Tuomey got off with a slap on the wrist.

Except .... according to newspaper reports that little matter of the Stark Law violations could cost the hospital $45 million. That's an awful lot of elephant dung - the same kind of dung that PR spin like this produces. Tuomey didn't win; it got a split decision - and it's still going to cost.

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