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  • Writer's pictureBart Scrivener

Death by EAMC

Updated: Sep 13, 2022

Fite v. Aperian Laboratory Solutions LLC (5:13-cv-01626)

District Court, N.D. Alabama

Last Updated: Nov. 6, 2021, 11:06 a.m. CDT

Assigned To: L. Scott Coogler

Date Filed: Aug. 30, 2013

Date Terminated: Sept. 26, 2018

Date of Last Known Filing: Sept. 26, 2018

Cause: 31:3729 False Claims Act

Nature of Suit: 890 Other Statutory Actions

Jury Demand: Both

Jurisdiction Type: Federal Question

"Defendant Aperian Laboratory Solutions, LLC (“Aperian”) is a corporation with its principal office in Opelika, Alabama at 121 N. 20th Street, Suite 17 Opelika, AL 36801. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The East Alabama Health Care Authority d/b/a East Alabama Medical Center. Aperian provides both forensic lab services (through drug screens for industrial employees) and clinical laboratory services (through testing for pain management and family practice clinics to determine the presence of pain management drugs in their patients’ bodies). Aperian has its own provider numbers and submitted, and continues to submit, claims for laboratory services to Federal payors, Medicare, Medicaid, TriCare and CHAMPUS. Defendant East Alabama Health Care Authority, d/b/a East Alabama Medical Center is located at 2000 Pepperell Parkway, Opelika, AL, 36801. Defendant EAHCA is owned by Lee County and holds itself out as a not for profit institution. It is the parent company of wholly-owned subsidiary Aperian. The officers for Aperian and EAHCA are the same people."

Aperian Laboratory Solutions, LLC, devised a scheme to defraud the Federal government where it would provide free Noble cups for drug testing to hundreds of doctors across the county in exchange for the physicians' agreement to send samples to Aperian for "confirmation" testing of results found by physician. Aperian then submitted false claims to Medicare and Medicaid.

Second Amended Complaint: "The providers who received the Noble cups as an inducement submitted further testing requests to Aperian which billed Federal payors a total of $3,348,635.02 for those claims, and they were paid at least $1,138,218.40 from the United States based on these illegal false claims."

Another scheme involved numerous companies which provided marketing for Aperian and referred business to Aperian in exchange for a percentage of all samples. Aperian also provided free copying machines and paid the wages of those collecting the samples for those businesses that agreed to send samples to Aperian for "confirmation".

Paragraph 185 of the Second Amended Complaint: "Aperian routinely paid for urine sample collectors to be based in physician offices. These people would perform urine sample collection duties, but would also perform other work for the physicians (including other testing, filing, or medical record recording)."

Second Amended Complaint Paragraph 217. "Aperian/EAMC executives had routine status calls concerning this scheme—including [Former Scientific Director of Aperian and current Director of Perioperative Services at EAMC] Valaer, McHan, Michele Hunter, Lott, Chapman, and Relator [Fite]." Also implicated is EAMC General Counsel Robin Nutter (Paragraphs 101 and 110).

If EAHCA/EAMC/Aperian misrepresents and defrauds the Federal Government, does anyone think it doesn't misrepresent and defraud patients who enter the doors of this hospital run by corrupt men and women? The situation is even worse, EAMC colludes with insurance companies to trump up charges. Do you think one would make this statement and not be sued if it weren't true? EAMC has no problem using taxpayer money to file lawsuits to cover up the truth, to delay payment for fraud, to enrich those who profit from the suffering of those who subsidize the Hospital.

So it is very much in character with the corporate culture of EAMC not to have held CFO Sam Price accountable for fraud when he arranged and signed the illegal contracts for Aperian Laboratory Solution, LLC. It’s not as though upper management at East Alabama Health Care Authority didn’t know all about the fraud. Suit was filed in 2013 and it was litigated for five years. Document 147, Evidentiary Material, contains the deposition of Laura Grill, President and CEO of EAMC. She knew so much that she either evaded questions and/or repeated claims of memory lapse during the deposition. Read it yourself and decide.

But wait, there's more evidence of EAMC’s pervasive culture of greed and fraud!

Document 63 of the second amended complaint of Fite, paragraph 192:

“Further, a May 9, 2008 e-mail from Dr. Jerry McHan, the medical director of Aperian, discusses visiting a Georgia medical practice and providing them improper incentives to refer lab tests. McHan stated that “[s]ince I had such a receptive audience and since I knew they were testing only a portion of their patients, I decided to go for the gold.” He first offered to provide the practice with a free color printer if they provide 50 samples a month. The practice agreed. So he promised them a grant of $20,000 if they could provide 100 samples a month for 12 months. The practice agreed. Dr. McHan then promised that if the practice would contract with Aperian to provide a minimum of 150 samples a month, Aperian would pay the cost of a new employee/collector. Dr. McHan concludes his e-mail by saying the practice was already strategizing on how to get 150 samples a month by the time he left the meeting”.

Folks the above account curdles the blood. Dr. McHan's email illustrates the depraved corporate culture at EAMC. As far as I know, there is no gold in hell.

Informed folks with an option now go to Columbus, Montgomery, Alex City, anywhere but EAMC. Folks are rightfully more concerned about "Death by EAMC" than Covid 19. Can you blame them? EAMC places stents in people who don't need them and is amazed when it is sued. One does not sue this Lee County god. All that EAMC malfeasance and fraud exposed in the Fite case, all those greedy high ranking EAMC officials named and implicated back in 2013, yet most of them are still there, including Pittard, Grill, Nutter, Sam Price, Valaer, Hunter, and Chapman. As long as those folks remain on the payroll, the fraud and abuse will continue. These perps must go. They jeopardize the very existence of the hospital and if it were theirs, perhaps it would be their choice, but the hospital is owned by Lee County and subsidized $7 M each year from property tax and further subsidized as late as 2018 by a $31 M bond issue backed by taxpayers' Special Hospital Taxes. If a private business must account for its criminal behavior, all the more reason the leaders of a Publicly owned Hospital should be held accountable to an even higher standard. Why has the County Commission failed to exercise its oversight responsibility?

Bill English, do you work for EAMC or the taxpayers of Lee County? You are a Public Servant, do your job: stop rubber stamping the Board's nominations to the Board, stop the fraud, hold Hospital malefactors accountable for their crimes. No more bond issues, no more Special Hospital taxes. Take back oversight and control of this County owned Hospital controlled by greedy liars and thieves.

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