Attorney says Lee Health ‘owe the taxpayers’ amid federal lawsuit

Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Golisano Children's Hospital building. Photo via WINK News.
Golisano Children’s Hospital. Photo via WINK News.

One local health care provider is under fire from claims of over billing, illegal billing and Medicare fraud that spans almost a decade.

Lee Health is at the center of a federal lawsuit that alleges the hospital knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare and Medicaid from 2005 to 2014.

“These are the doctors that stand to make the hospital a lot of money,” Attorney Marlan Wilbanks said.

Wilbanks filed the lawsuit on behalf of his client, Angela D’Anna, claiming Lee Health illegally overcompensated certain doctors.

“Some of the neurosurgeons were making 238 percent of the average salary of other neurosurgeons across the United States,” Wilbanks said. “You’ve got neurosurgeons making $1.6 million. You’ve got cardiologists making $1.4 million when their peers across the states aren’t making half that much.”

D’Anna worked as the director of internal audit for Lee Health for 10 years. She claims the hospital committed these illegal procedures so it could get more referrals, and work actually performed by nurses and assistants got billed at doctor’s rates.

“Patients and the government should never have to wonder if money plays a role in the healthcare they receive,” Wilbanks said.

He said this violates a law that protects patients from wondering if a costly procedure is what they actually need or just a way for the hospital to make money and take it from you as a taxpayer.

“If you’re in an illegal compensation arrangement, all of the referrals that you make to an entity like Lee are illegal referrals,” Wilbanks said. “And you owe the taxpayers that money back,”

Lee Health would not go on camera but called the allegations “false” and said the claims “reflect a misunderstanding by a former employee of how Lee Health compensates physicians and bills for services.”

The hospital is trying to have the case thrown out of court with a pending motion to dismiss.

The opposition filed a 32-page response to that motion, outlining their claims that Lee Health did in fact take illegal steps.

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