Monday, March 23, 2015

Ho-hum.

Just an old story from the Mississippi Business Journal back in 2011. I just felt like posting a blast from the past for the pure heck of it.

What began as a wrongful termination lawsuit against the non-profit Delta Health Alliance has ended in its CEO under investigation by a federal grand jury over the possible misuse of money at the agency.
James Hahn, former vice president of programs at Stoneville-based DHA, which provides healthcare to the poor in the Mississippi Delta, was fired in May 2010 after he raised concerns about possible misappropriation of funds by DHA’s CEO Dr. Karen Fox. Hahn relayed his concerns to DHA’s board of directors, who initiated an investigation into Hahn’s claims. After the investigation—which Hahn in court papers called a “sham” — turned up no wrongdoing, Hahn said in his complaint that he was asked to sign a release promising not to report any of his concerns to federal agencies. Hahn refused to sign the release, he said in his complaint, and was fired.

In July 2010, Hahn sued DHA in Lafayette County Circuit Court, alleging that he was fired for reporting that Fox had inappropriately spent DHA money, including some for personal expenses. Among the claims in Hahn’s complaint were that Fox used DHA funds (which come mostly from federal sources) to:
• Pay for an attorney in a private legal matter
• Lease a condominium in Oxford
• Pay for childcare
• Pay her interior decorator
• Purchase two late model cars on top of the $3,000 a month car allowance Fox already received
• Increase DHA contributions under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act for DHA executives from 11 percent to 20 percent. 
• Lobby the Legislature

Hahn’s complaint alleged that Fox’s actions constituted embezzlement and fraud. Roy Campbell III, a Jackson attorney who represents DHA, said an investigation into Hahn’s claims initiated before Hahn’s lawsuit was filed, found that Fox was authorized to pay for each of the expenses with DHA money.

“I am entirely, completely comfortable with the investigation, which continued over the course of the lawsuit,” Campbell said in an interview this week. “Nothing was uncovered that indicated any wrongdoing on the part of Dr. Fox.”

Campbell said that DHA has voluntarily – without a subpoena – turned over about six years’ worth of audits to the United States Attorney in Mississippi’s Northern District. That would span Fox’s time as CEO. “We have cooperated fully with the investigation and intend to continue to do so,” he said. Campbell added that Hahn was not asked to sign a release promising not to report any of his concerns to federal agencies. “He was fired because the board found the situation of one of Dr. Fox’s right-hand people making unfounded allegations against her intolerable,” Campbell said.
 
DHA funding, according to court filings, for year-end 2008 was $13.5 million, money Delta Council executive vice president Chip Morgan said in a deposition came mostly from earmarks secured by Sen. Thad Cochran. Delta Council, according to court documents, at one time appointed five of the nine members of DHA’s board of directors and once received $275,000 annually from the agency. For year-end 2010, court documents show, DHA funding was $31 million, all of which came from federal sources.

DHA Board of Directors Chairman John Hilpert, who is also president of Delta State University, and former board member and University of Mississippi Medical Center Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs James Keeton each said in depositions that they were unaware what purpose the Oxford condo served for DHA and Fox. Keeton added in his deposition that he was unaware of any services DHA provided in Oxford.

On Oct. 7, 2010, DHA’s board of directors passed a resolution – a copy of which Campbell provided to the Mississippi Business Journal – that approved the expenses listed in Hahn’s complaint and said the condo would be used in lieu of hotel stays for DHA to operate a community outreach center and to offer programs in the area.

Lawyers for DHA, in a motion for summary judgment, sought to dismiss any claim related to the Oxford condo because they said Hahn’s attorney, Jim Waide, was using it as a vehicle to attack Fox’s personal life. They also sought to bar Waide from seeking information related to DHA money funding programs that were not executed well.

DHA attorneys also asked presiding Judge Henry Lackey – and Judge John Gregory, who succeeded Lackey after he retired — to bar Waide from seeking information about possible contributions to Ole Miss made in Fox’s name by Allscripts, a Chicago-based software company that specializes in electronic health records. Such donations would violate the federal Medicare anti-kickback statute, Waide said in his response to DHA’s motion for summary judgment. In 2008, according to court filings, DHA paid Allscripts $1.775 million. DHA attorneys said that Hahn had not mentioned the claims in his original complaint.

In the same motion, DHA attorneys asked Gregory to bar Waide from seeking information about DHA awarding a multi-million dollar grant to UMMC to implement EHRs, contingent upon the hospital using Allscripts as its software provider, again because Hahn had not mentioned the claims in his original complaint. UMMC, as part of the requirements in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is in the process of implementing EHRs, a five-year process a hospital spokesperson recently said would cost $70 million.

After about a year of discovery, the case settled last May. Terms were confidential.

In September, though, Waide filed a motion asking Gregory to lift the veil of confidentiality surrounding the settlement. Attached as an exhibit to Waide’s motion was a subpoena dated Sept. 20, 2011, commanding him to appear before a federal grand jury empaneled in Oxford. Gregory granted the motion. Waide was subpoenaed again Nov. 15 to appear before the same grand jury, or to turn over documents related to Hahn’s lawsuit.

Waide said by phone from his Tupelo office this week that after he was subpoenaed the first time, he told the U.S. Attorney’s office that he had to receive permission from Gregory before turning over any documents, because the settlement terms were sealed. Once Gregory entered an order allowing Waide to share the information, the U.S. Attorney subpoenaed Waide again. Waide said federal agents picked up his case file from his office shortly after the Nov. 15 subpoena.He would not comment further.

Mike Watts, an attorney at Holcomb Dunbar in Oxford who represents Fox, said he has been given no indication from the U.S. Attorney’s Office as to how long the investigation would last.
“I think the government would probably do it as expeditiously as they can, but they have not told me when it might end,” he said.

Watts said he was not involved in defending DHA or Fox during Hahn’s lawsuit. He would not say when Fox retained him. He did say that, aside from DHA’s internal investigation into the matter, routine audits performed by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration have turned up nothing illegal.

“All these audits, as far as I know, show that everything has been spent appropriately. We believe in the end when the investigation is concluded that it will show that Dr. Fox didn’t do anything improper.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oxford had not returned a phone message seeking comment by press time.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't think UMMC has ever used any EHR except EPIC.

Anonymous said...

What's the rest of the story?

Anonymous said...

Allscripts has been used by UMC in the past, prior to Epic implementation.

Anonymous said...

UMMC had initially contracted with Allscripts but scrapped it after negative feedback from the piloting departments.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, this along with the Black Bear debacle, may be part of the back story of why Governor Bryant appointed Chip Morgan to the College Board. Morgan and other Bryant appointees first significant College Board action was to fire Dan Jones. In 2011, rumors swirled that Dan Jones was angry that the Delta Council received a fortune in questionable federal funding from Uncle Thad for their Delta Health Alliance's bogus electronic medical record project. So angry, that he and others pushed for an investigation into how the Delta Health Alliance was spending all that federal dough...where there is some there is often FIRE...

Anonymous said...

Smoke = Fire

Anonymous said...

Look at this press release from 2007. Katrina earmarks?

http://investor.allscripts.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=112727&p=irol-newsArticle_print&ID=967783

"News Release
Delta Health Alliance Selects Allscripts Electronic Health Record for 500 Physicians

Grant-Funded EHR to Benefit the Mississippi Delta Region's Medically
Underserved Population, Hard-Hit by Hurricane Katrina

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 27 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- From the floor of the 2007 HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibition, Allscripts (Nasdaq: MDRX), the leading provider of clinical software, connectivity and information solutions that physicians use to improve healthcare, announced today that Delta Health Alliance has selected the TouchWorks(TM) Electronic Health Record (EHR) to automate, inform and connect more than 500 physicians. The Mississippi Delta region served by Delta Health was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and is among the poorest and most disadvantaged areas in the nation.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20061005/ALLSCRIPTSLOGO-b )

Delta Health, an alliance of six state-funded universities and three primary healthcare organizations including the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, will deploy the Electronic Health Record to improve health outcomes for the Delta's patients and aid in the region's recovery. The implementation is being funded by a $25 million grant awarded to Delta Health in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

"We have a dire healthcare situation in the Mississippi Delta, made worse by Hurricane Katrina, and this technology will help address many of the issues we face in this region," said Cass Pennington, Chief Executive Officer of Delta Health Alliance. "Allscripts will help our providers in urban settings and remote areas of the Delta communicate with each other and get the clinical information they need to provide the best care for their patients, many of whom have multiple chronic conditions and are seen by multiple providers who may be hundreds of miles apart. The Electronic Health Record will bring all the information together in one place that's easily accessible by all our providers, no matter where they are."

...the press release cotinues...

Anonymous said...

More Smoke? More Fire?

Steve Nash paid $750.00 a day by Delta Health Alliance-

“I was hired to help with some organizational issues and some communications issues,” Nash said. “About the time they hired me, they had received a lot of extra money and were going to be able to spend money on a lot of extra programs. The staff and the management of those programs was going to grow exponentially, so they wanted some help in creating an internal organization to manage that kind of growth.

But he told MBJ that this little thing wasn't what he was hired for. Offering free advice to Chip Morgan on how to embarrass Robert Khayat or to make him fear embarrassment prior to his departure.

http://msbusiness.com/blog/2011/12/01/email-from-nash-to-delta-council%e2%80%99s-morgan-included-in-dha-court-file/


http://msbusiness.com/wp-files/pdfs/jere-nash-email.pdf

"According to Democratic strategist Jere Nash, there are two kinds of embarrassment Mississippi public officials can endure – the public kind and the kind that comes from their peer and social groups.

Nash made that clear in a May 2009 e-mail to Delta Council executive vice president Chip Morgan. In the email, which was included in the court file of James Hahn’s lawsuit against the Delta Health Alliance, Nash discusses ways to bring some combination of public and social embarrassment to former Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat.

“Each can be an effective motivator,” Nash writes. “As for the public kind, it seems there are three venues: (1) the press; (2) the Legislature; and (3) the College Board. The typical free media is pretty weak in Mississippi (as you know), but that doesn’t mean that a juicy story about UMC losing millions of federal dollars because of bureaucratic bumbling wouldn’t entice even the laziest reporter.”

details, pesky details said...

2:45, you make some interesting observations, and in fact there might be some connection as you try to tie all of these parts together.

BUT, you miss a major point and make a gross misstatement of facts.

Chip Morgan has not yet taken a seat on the College Board. He has not been confirmed by the MS Senate, nor have two of the other members. Only one has received confirmation and he was confirmed the day after the vote and could not be seated before the following Monday due to Senate rules.

None of Bryants four latest appointees voted on the non-extension of Jones' contract. So, despite there being other good dots to be connected, your theory falls apart when based on this assertion.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification 3:24.
Nonetheless, there is a lot of smoke involved here.
Questions should be asked about all of this.

Anonymous said...

The more interesting question is how much taxpayer money has the Delta Health Alliance received from the state and federal government and how are they spending it? Who is looking into this Black Hole?

Anonymous said...

Are physicians in the Delta actually, now connected to UMC via the internet and Uncle Thad's grant money? What happened to all that money?

Anonymous said...

http://msbusiness.com/blog/2011/12/01/email-from-nash-to-delta-council%E2%80%99s-morgan-included-in-dha-court-file/

Nash made that clear in a May 2009 e-mail to Delta Council executive vice president Chip Morgan. In the email, which was included in the court file of James Hahn’s lawsuit against the Delta Health Alliance, Nash discusses ways to bring some combination of public and social embarrassment to former Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat.

“Each can be an effective motivator,” Nash writes. “As for the public kind, it seems there are three venues: (1) the press; (2) the Legislature; and (3) the College Board. The typical free media is pretty weak in Mississippi (as you know), but that doesn’t mean that a juicy story about UMC losing millions of federal dollars because of bureaucratic bumbling wouldn’t entice even the laziest reporter.”

Image of email:

http://msbusiness.com/wp-files/pdfs/jere-nash-email.pdf

Anonymous said...

http://msbusiness.com/wp-files/pdfs/jere-nash-email.pdf

Wally Conerly's Ghost said...

"Are physicians in the Delta actually, now connected to UMC via the internet and Uncle Thad's grant money?"

Sure - that's why they're all cured now!

Seriously - how far north did Katrina hit? This spending seems extremely questionable based on how devastated the coastal part of the state was.

Anonymous said...

So, according to that email, Kayak was forced out?

Anonymous said...

Autocorrect. Sorry, Khayat.

Anonymous said...

If Khayat and Jones were both forced out, who is behind all of this and what is the reason?

Anonymous said...

Saw Trent Lott at recent meeting at UMC unveiling Tele medicine junk. #gettingpaidnow

Anonymous said...

So, can anyone elaborate about that Khayat story in Jere Nash's email?

Anonymous said...

The annonomously linked Nash email was illuminating. Love it when folks out that kind of stuff out for review. Reading between the lines it appears that Nash works for Chip Morgan.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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