Friday, June 22, 2012

Witnesses at the Court Hearing

     At my Court Hearing the Government had no witnesses.
     I had four witnesses, all employees:  the Clinic's bookkeeper, Nurse Practitioner, Billing Specialist, and Nurse Supervisor.  Two had been hired by me six years earlier, and two in the past year.  Each took the witness stand for about twenty minutes.
     The bookkeeper said she had known me for more than six years and been doing bookkeeping for me since that time.  She had never seen any irregularities in my work.  She thought of me as a person of upstanding character.  I was an asset to the community, she said, and very generous with my employees.  I was anxious to pay bills on time and meet tax deadlines.
     The Nurse Practitioner said I was an excellent doctor and had taught her much of what she knew about Family Practice.  She coded her own visits and was aware of the complicated coding guidelines.  She knew I reviewed every chart and every billing sheet before it was submitted to billing personnel for computer entry, and she had never known me to bill erroneously or over-bill.
     The Nurse Supervisor said she loved her job and felt we were doing a lot more to help patients than other practices where she had worked.  We were very busy and did tests and procedures that were necessary.  She understood the reason for everything she was asked to do and was learning a lot about sorting out patients' symptoms, because this was a teaching environment.  She explained how the office worked as a team to figure out what was wrong with patients and get them well. We offered many treatments on site, for example IV antibiotics, corticosteroid joint injections, IUD insertion, x-ray, ultrasound, bone density, skin cancer removal...and she knew this was more comprehensive than most family doctors, but patients were happy not to be referred out, which was why we were so busy.
     The Billing Specialist said she entered and submitted charges, understood billing procedures, and had worked at numerous other offices.  She had not seen or entered charges that seemed erroneous or fraudulent at Colasante Clinic, and she had never had any cause for suspicion.  She and other billing representatives were the only ones who entered charges to insurance companies, not the doctors or other employees.  When she thought a code was questionable, she would go over it with me, recommending a more appropriate one, and found me to be quite receptive.  When she reviewed payments there were none for services that she and the billing staff couldn't corroborate.  She considered me a person of high integrity with great regard for patients.  She knew we offered multi-specialty services which saved our patients the travel and inconvenience of referrals and thought it was an excellent way to practice.
     All the employees had referred friends and relatives to Colasante Clinic because they had confidence in the methodology and treatment protocols, and they knew providers cared about patients.
     The witnesses were sequestered in closed quarters outside the courtroom and were not permitted to hear one another's testimony. They were ushered in to take the stand, and ushered out when they were finished.  They were very nervous.
     I was not allowed to speak at any time during the Hearing.
     This was certainly for the best.

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