September 2004 -


Panel to Investigate UW Medicine Billing Errors

The UW Medicine Board named a six-member panel Aug. 6 to review the problems that led to a $35 million settlement with the federal government over billing errors in Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs.

In April, the UW and the U.S. Department of Justice reached a settlement over a lawsuit that alleged massive billing fraud by physician plans at UW-affiliated hospitals. During the five-year investigation, two prominent UW physicians pleaded guilty to charges related to the investigation and resigned (see "UW Pays Record $35 Million to Settle Government Bill Fraud Claims," June 2004).

Headed by Seattle attorney William Van Ness Jr., the review committee will "focus on assessing the adequacy of existing compliance efforts to prevent billing errors," said UW Medicine Board Chair Ann Ramsay-Jenkins. "The process will be forward-looking except where a better understanding of the past will help avoid future problems."

Ramsay-Jenkins said the panel will look at operational weaknesses that led to the billing errors, assess the current compliance program and review the governance structure for UW Medicine. She expects the panel to complete its report early next year. Medical School Dean Paul Ramsey recommended creating the review panel in a June 10 letter to the UW Medicine Board. All members of the review panel are also members of the medicine board. The six members are:
Brooks Ragen, chairman of the brokerage firm McAdams Wright Ragen. Michael Garvey, '61, '64, chairman of Saltchuck Resources, a company that invests in the maritime industry. Sylvia Mathews, CEO and executive director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Orin Smith, '65, vice chair of the review panel, president and CEO of Starbucks Coffee. Patricia Stanford, a community leader who is also a board member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the United Negro College Fund. William Van Ness Jr., '66, chair of the review panel, a founding partner of Seattle law firm Van Ness Feldman.

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