Cavalier County Memorial Hospital (CCMH) has scheduled a community forum for January 10 beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Langdon Area High School Gymnasium.
This announcement comes after CCMH recently made a voluntary submission to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG) regarding previous contracts with its providers that were potentially in violation of federal provider compensation laws.
The federal provider compensation laws require that all hospitals that receive federal funding must pay their health care providers consistent with fair market value. The underlying laws are complex and determining fair market value can be challenging in some communities. Because of this, sometimes hospitals like CCMH violate them unintentionally by paying providers too much for the services that they perform.
Upon his arrival in January of 2016, CCMH’s CEO Chris Wyatt directed an audit of all provider contracts, which is standard in the industry when assuming the fiduciary responsibilities of a new hospital.
It was during this review that CCMH discovered issues with the compensation paid to three health care providers. CCMH investigated the issue with the assistance of a national law firm, Hall Render, that specializes in representing hospitals and health systems. This investigation led to a voluntary self-disclosure of the findings of the internal investigation to the OIG—a reflection of CCMH’s commitment to compliance as part of its participation in federal health care programs.
“Entering a new job as a young CEO, this was undoubtedly a difficult situation for Chris, and we’re grateful that this was handled appropriately. He could have looked the other way, swept the audit findings under the rug, or left the job for another, but that would have left us vulnerable for significant fines and loss of federal assistance. But Chris didn’t lament on the situation. He embraced it, helped us resolve the issues, and in the end this process has made CCMH stronger,” stated Dawn Roppel, President of CCMH Board of Trustees, speaking on behalf of the board.
Through careful discussions and reviews of financial audits, CCMH was able to enter into a settlement with the OIG, which will help CCMH avoid a long legal process. The final settlement amount was $750,000, which is a fraction of the potential penalties that can result if issues like this are not resolved through self-disclosure with the OIG.
“Fortunately, we have a strong board and administrative team who took immediate action,” says Wyatt. For instance, CCMH immediately put into place a compliance review task force, positioned a newly created executive team, and hired a seasoned Chief Financial Officer to offer an objective review of the financial documentation.
It is widely known that the world of health care is a complex one. For this reason, CCMH has made it their mission to ensure that they have the correct oversight in place and experienced individuals placed in positions that have the most risk of exposure.
As a result of these endeavours to ensure responsibility and the discovery of the issues, CCMH has strengthened their processes and procedures and put in place an added level of compliance measures.
“We love this community,” says Wyatt. “It’s been difficult because, although we’re doing the right thing for our community and the hospital, there have been some misunderstandings about our intentions.”
Because of the delicate situations that CCMH found themselves in where certain actions were needed, such as restructuring some provider contracts to place them in compliance and revamping their entire corporate compliance program, there was some discontent in the community.
“We know that this process has been hard for the community. Now that we have reached this settlement, we look forward to providing even more transparency about this process to help the community understand why CCMH did what it did over the last two years,” Wyatt stated.
The goal of CCMH now is to mend any differences and become even stronger as a community. Wyatt is incredibly grateful for the support and professionalism from the current board, employees, business leaders and our patients and friends.
“Now, we can focus on continuing to provide quality care for generations to come,” says Wyatt.
To aid in this healing process, CCMH officials have planned a public forum. During this forum, Wyatt and board members will provide a brief overview of what has occurred to date and then will answer questions from the community.
Representatives of the national health care legal firm of Hall Render have been working on the hospital’s behalf, and they reported that the transparency of Wyatt and the current board has been instrumental in correcting the situation expeditiously and with limited financial exposure for CCMH.
Wyatt, the executive team, the board of trustees, and Joe Wolfe, from Hall Render, request that all who have questions or concerns please be present at this meeting. Wolfe is renowned in the industry as being the utmost authority when it comes to laws regarding health care and hospital compliance.
Please note: CCMH is unable to answer questions not submitted in person and reminds those wanting to attend that this is a community building forum.