The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the former head of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, Stuart Levine, and two local businessmen, P. Nicholas Hurtgen, formerly of Bear Stearns, and construction executive Jacob Kiferbaum, have been indicted for "influence peddling, kickbacks, and other corrupt actions" that affected local health care organizations. In one instance, they are accused of threatening Edward Hospital in Naperville that the Board would not approve its expansion plans unless the hospital were to use their firms to construct and finance the project. The hospital refused, and its application for expansion was rejected. Another alleged scheme involved Chicago Medical School. (An article from the Sun-Times from June 30, 2004, no longer available on the web, stated that Levine and Kiferbaum were on the school's board of trustees, and that Kiferbaum's company had been involved in large school construction projects. )
Setting aside, for the moment, the question of whether these indictments will result in convictions...
We have reported quite a few stories involving alleged or proven corruption of leaders of health care organizations. Since we have no mechanism in place to comprehensively search the news media for such cases, and since many such cases may go unreported, it is likely that all we have posted amounts to the tip of the iceberg.
What little survey data we have also suggest that unethical business practices in health care may be very widespread. For example, as we have previously posted, 53.8% of the respondents to the survey done by the American College of Physician Executives felt that a health care organization in their community was involved in unethical business practices.
It thus seems reasonable to ask how much effect all the episodes of unethical behavior and corruption have had on health care costs, access and quality. But I have yet to see any serious effort made to answer this question. (If someone else has seen one, please let me know.)
It also seems reasonable to ask why there is so little response to these episodes from the medical and health care communities. For example, although the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board story first surfaced almost a year ago, I have not been able to find any response to it from a medical or health care organization. (If someone else has seen one, again, please let me know.)
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