ONLINE News Briefs

February 8, 2002

Kickbacks, Regulatory Reform, Autos, Mortgages

ONLINE News Briefs

 

Kickbacks: Federal probe into chiropractor’s scheme nets two doctors—for income tax evasion

Two Texas physicians face three years in prison and fines as high as $250,000 for income tax evasion that grew out of a scam to defraud health insurers. According to the US Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, the doctors, who pleaded guilty to knowingly understating their income, were caught in a federal probe of a chiropractor who established "spurious medical clinics" in health clubs and submitted false claims totaling $5.7 million to insurers.

The chiropractor solicited club members as patients and established phony medical records for them. Claims filed for those patients identified the doctors as the treating physicians, even though they never saw the patients or supervised any treatment. The chiropractor pleaded guilty to mail fraud and has been sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to make restitution in the amount of $2.75 million.

Regulatory Reform:Will HHS make it easier for doctors?

HHS wants to do away with "unnecessarily burdensome, inefficient regulations that interfere with the quality of health care for Americans." To that end, HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson has appointed a panel of advisers, including physicians and other health care professionals, to help simplify the regulatory process.

Committee members will hold field hearings across the country to gather insights from consumers, businesses, doctors, and other health care providers. Based on input from these hearings, the committee will make recommendations for reforming and streamlining the regulatory requirements at HHS agencies, particularly the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Food and Drug Administration.

Autos: SUVs are getting better marks in crash tests

The redesigned 2002 Ford Explorer got a "Best Pick" label from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which gave it top ratings in crash tests. The top grade applies to models built after October 2001, when Ford made some structural modifications to the popular sport-utility vehicle. Previous models of the Explorer were rated merely "Acceptable," because the driver’s door opened on impact during tests.

In general, 2002 SUV makes and models are better designed than earlier ones, says the IIHS. Four other SUVs also were rated Best Picks: BMW X5, Acura MDX, Lexus RX 300, and Mercedes-Benz M-Class. The Toyota Highlander, Suzuki Grand Vitara XL-7, and Mitsubishi Montero Sport all received good ratings, but the 2002 Chevrolet TrailBlazer earned only a marginal ranking.

Mortgages: Would you borrow from your lender again?

Most people aren’t very happy with their mortgage company, according to a customer satisfaction study of the eight largest national home mortgage lenders by JD Power and Associates. Among people whose loan hadn’t been sold to another lender, only 37 percent said they would borrow from their current lender again. Satisfaction levels dropped to 19 percent for those whose loan had been sold.

Customer satisfaction rankings for home mortgage companies

1. Countrywide Home Loans

2. GMAC Mortgage

3. Bank of America

4. Wells Fargo

5. CitiFinancial

6. Chase Manhattan

7. Washington Mutual

8. HomeSide Lending

 

 



Joan Rose. ONLINE News Briefs.

Medical Economics

2002;3.