Friday, April 17, 2015

Some blame Obamacare for rural hospitals closing, but 4 Texas hospitals closed due to fraud

Texas has lost 10 rural hospitals since 2010, and several more are in danger. While everyone from the federal government to private insurers to declining rural populations are being blamed, some forget that nearly half of the closures were the result of a fraud case, David Warren reports for The Associated Press. On Tuesday Dr. Tariq Mahmood was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison after earlier being convicted of submitting more than $1 million in false Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement claims. Those claims led to the closure of four rural hospitals that Mahmood operated. (Dallas Morning News photo by Vernon Bryant: Dr. Tariq Mahmood after a hearing in 2014)

"The hospitals at the center of the case took a major financial hit when federal funding was withdrawn after inspectors found substandard patient care and deteriorating conditions at the facilities," Warren writes. Dr. Doug Curran, a family physician in rural East Texas and a board member of the Texas Medical Association, told Warren, "Whenever something like that happens, and these hospitals close, you just don't have the access to care. Especially for people who are poor."

In a state where people have to travel long distances to receive care, the closure of the four hospitals makes some drives even longer, Warren writes. "People in East Texas seeking specialized pediatric care usually have to travel to Dallas or Houston, Curran said."

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