Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee….all places that refused the Medicaid Expansion of Obamacare. ….am I right?
Of course, accepting the Obamacare money would mean supporting 44, and they couldn’t have that…so, they threw in with a conman.
But, we’re supposed to feel sorry that they got took in by a hustler……
By Barbara Feder Ostrov and Lauren Weber
Photos by Heidi de Marco
AUGUST 20, 2019
SWEET SPRINGS, Mo. — The money was so good in the beginning, and it seemed it might gush forever, right through tiny country hospitals in Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and into the coffers of companies controlled by Jorge A. Perez, his family and business partners.
It was his “secret sauce,” the rotund Miami entrepreneur would smilingly tell people in their no-stoplight towns. The money-making ventures he proposed sounded complicated, sure, but he said they would bring in enough cash to save their hospital and dozens, even hundreds, of good jobs in rural towns where gainful employment is hard to come by.
And, in town after town, the people believed him. He offered what they could not resist: hope, and the promise of survival.
Then a few major health insurance companies got suspicious, as did some government officials. How could Unionville, Mo. — a town of 1,790 — generate $92 million in hospital lab fees for blood and urine samples in just six months? Why had lab billings at a 25-bed hospital in Plymouth, N.C., nearly tripled to $32 million in the year after Perez’s company took control?
The lab billings, insurers alleged, were simply fraudulent. Blue Cross Blue Shield and other insurers started filing lawsuits, stopped making reimbursements and shut off the spigot.
At the height of his operation, Perez and his Miami-based management company, EmpowerHMS, helped oversee a rural empire encompassing 18 hospitals across eight states. Perez owned or co-owned 11 of those hospitals and was CEO of the companies that provided their management and billing services. He was affiliated with companies that owned or managed the rest.
How companies run by this Miami businessman and his associates were able to drive so many hospitals into the ground so quickly, devastating their communities, is a story about the fragility of health care in rural America and the types of money-making ventures that have flourished in legal gray areas of America’s complicated medical system.
A year later, he invested in a struggling hospital in Williston, Fla., and with partner David Byrns landed a management contract for Putnam County Memorial in Unionville, Mo. In 2017, Perez formed a partnership with Paul Nusbaum, a former secretary of health and human resources in West Virginia, and acquired controlling interest in 10 hospitals in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee and North Carolina, swallowing them whole.
ALL states, with the exception of Kansas (who only recently did), refused to accept Obamacare Medicaid Expansion.
A story told over and over in rural America. The same ‘ real Americans’ that keep on voting in people who refused to take Medicaid Expansion from Obamacare, because, it’s OBAMACARE. Then, they wonder why their rural hospitals are closing, thus pushing them to go hours for medical care. Their hatred was more important than their own health. Stacey Abrams certainly made Medicaid Expansion in Georgia as a main part of the platform that she ran on, yet, they let the crook and thief into office.
I want to feel bad that these people were suckered, but, I’m past that point, cause it didn’t have to be this way.