A member of Congress has called for an investigation into allegations that HCA Healthcare, a Nashville-based for-profit hospital chain, has admitted thousands of patients unnecessarily to receive up to $1.8 billion extra in Medicare payments since 2008. 

Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.), chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services expressing concerns over HCA’s “single-minded focus on profits.” His request includes an investigation into its joint venture with EmCare, a subsidiary of Envision Healthcare which is also based in Nashville, as well as into HCA’s hospital admissions policy.  

In addition, Pascrell sent a letter to HCA requesting additional information on the company’s patient admissions incentives. 

Earlier this year, the Service Employees International Union also accused HCA of fraudulently gaining $1.8 billion in Medicare payments, which HCA responded to by accusing SEIU of releasing statements against HCA to gain publicity. 

HCA responded to say the organization is reviewing Pascrell's letter and will respond to requests for information, noting that the claims appear to be similar to those they addressed with SEIU previously

“We believe that our operational processes and procedures are working well and that we are meeting the health care needs of our patients and communities,” a statement from HCA reads. “We were one of the only, if not the only, health system to return all of our portion of the federal CARES Act funding to the government, which was approximately $6 billion. We are grateful to our colleagues who show up in every way to serve the health care needs of our communities.”

Vanderbilt hospital, university to collaborate on $2.3M substance abuse research grant

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has granted $2.3 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Vanderbilt University and the Department of Veterans Affairs to study the role genetics plays in treatment for substance use disorder. 

Over five years, a team led by Vanderbilt University School of Nursing assistant professor Alvin Jeffery will gather data to conclude where a patient falls along a continuum of substance use disorder in an effort to better personalize pain management, for example. 

“Our work will focus on developing technology that can identify through the electronic health record people who are likely to have substance use disorder, with the specific application of supporting genetic research across multiple organizations,” Jeffery told Vanderbilt University Research News. “Opioid and substance use disorders are not well documented, which gives geneticists a lot of trouble conducting research at the scale that they want to.”

Vanderbilt Children's sends care to Cookeville

The Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt will provide coverage and support at Cookeville Regional Medical Center thanks to a new agreement between the two entities. Under the agreement, Vanderbilt pediatricians will utilize telehealth for consultations and can receive referrals from Cookeville Regional.  

Vanderbilt Children’s Specialty Clinics also has a location next to Cookeville Regional, which sees children for several specialties including cardiology, rheumatology, endocrinology, diabetes, genetics, gastroenterology, neurology, nephrology and pulmonology.

“We are thrilled to announce this important partnership with Cookeville Regional Medical Center to provide vital access to pediatric health services for infants and children in the Upper Cumberland region,” said Kris Rehm, vice chair and director of outreach medicine for the department of pediatrics at Vanderbilt.