An unsealed complaint against 60 hospitals was filed in a U.S. District Court in Indiana in 2016 for violating the HITECH Act. The 60 hospitals allegedly received the HITECH Act meaningful use incentive payments for transitioning to an electronic health records system without actually satisfying the requirements of the HITECH Act.
Before hospitals can receive incentive payments, the HITECH Act requires hospitals to attest that they are able to provide 50% of their patients with copies of medical records within 3 business days upon submission of a request. Also, the healthcare organization is supposed to charge only the cost of labor for supplying the requested copies of health records.
Attorneys Michael Misch and Bradley Colborn of the law firm Anderson, Agostino & Keller, P.C. of South Bend Indiana conducted an investigation on the hospitals after being frustrated with the delays in acquiring copies of health records for their clients and paying high amounts for the copies. It is hoped that the investigation can help in streamlining requests for copies of the health records, reducing the time to release the copies, and lowering the cost of acquiring the records.
Unfortunately, the investigation showed that many hospitals failed to provide patients or their legal representatives with copies of their health records promptly upon request as required by the HITECH Act, even though the hospitals already claimed the incentive payments for compliance. It seemed obvious that they just claimed compliance, even if they’re not qualified, to get the incentive.
In the complaint filed against the 60 hospitals, it is alleged that $324.4 million of HITECH Act grant funding has been released to the hospitals. But the hospitals failed to meet the requirements to provide patients their health records promptly and affordably. The lawsuit charges the hospitals with violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act for falsely claiming compliance with the HITECH Act in order to get public funding.