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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Of Medicare fraud, the mystery doc and campaign mud



Bill McCollum's Tally-based supporters are breathlessly spinning the Rick-Scott-is-under-investigation yarn. Not sure about that. Actually, it's Rick Scott's company, Solantic, that they're talking about, and at issue are allegations from a former physician, Randy Prokes, who alleges Medicare fraud in a letter he sent to McCollum's campaign at the height of election season.

The letter was used in a lawsuit filed by a McCollum contributor who seeks Scott's deposition in yet another case related to Solantic, a chain of walk-in clinics based in Jacksonville. Prokes' claims invariably raise the specter of Columbia/HCA, the hospital company that McCollum opponent Scott headed before it was fined a record $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud.

McCollum's campaign turned the letter over to the state Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate. And FDLE spokeswoman stressed that the agency was "reviewing" and not "investigating" the matter. Now it looks like the Agency for Health Care Administration has turned the matter over to federal officials, according to Health News Florida. Since Medicare isn't regulated by the state, and since Solantic appears to do almost no Medicaid business, the state can't investigate.

In probing the matter, federal officials might have better luck than us getting Prokes to return e-mails or calls to his home, office and cell phone. He might explain an inaccuracy in his complaint (that Scott was banned from Medicare for a time, which he wasn't) or why he waited more than a year to file his complaint -- and only did so with a campaign and not with investigators.

Solantic officials, in turn, have said Prokes is "disgruntled" and that he was fired for improperly writing prescriptions. But, as with Prokes, they failed to notify authorities for what appeared to be a violation of the law, if not standard practice of care.

Anyway, here's the whole Prokes' letter. Judge for yourself the level of gruntlement/truth:

I worked for Solantic Urgent care in Jacksonville, which Mr Scott was the primary investor/ owner until he began his run for governor earlier this year. For the first four years I was there Solantic did not deal with Medicare patients since I believe Mr Scott was still banned from participation in Medicare due to his fraudulent activities with Columbia Healthcare previously. However in approximately 2006 the clinics did begin to accept Medicare patients. During my time there I personally witnessed NP's (nurse Pract.) working many times alone in clinics and completely unsupervised. Not only was this a quality of care issue but, I believe that Medicare patients were always billed at full prices even when a physician was NOT in the office, which I feel is a violation of Medicare billing policy. It is my understanding that is a physician is NOT IN THE BUILDING, the fee must be lowered to 85% of the standard charge if the pt was seen by a NP only. I have NP's willing to testify to this practice, and I have been told by former employees responsible for charging patients that no adjustment to charges was made to accommodate for NP's working alone only. This may have changed after I left the company in 11 /09 and Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville became partners with Solantic. NP's are no longer allowed to work alone as I hear it. However, that leaves a period of about two years where fraudulent billing may have taken place. Given Mr Scotts previous behavior it would be no surprise to anyone if billing was not done in an appropriate fashion.

In addition, I have written copies of charts and charges that prove that Solantic was fraudulently billing under MY NAME by billing patients seen in their Northside office on Dunn avenue using my name to bill under, even though I NEVER SAW THOSE PATIENTS ! I only worked 1 day at that office in my years with Solantic and I have charts and copies of pts being billed under me when I was not there. I understand Solantic also has a current lawsuit by a former Medical director who stated Solantic was also using his name and license for other purposes without his knowledge. I contacted Aetna insurance company since that was the primary company that I saw my name being misused, but they did not or could not follow up as I did not have Solantic's tax ID number to give them at the time.

I am very concerned that Mr Scott will continue his record of corruption and greed and this will be catastrophic for the state of Florida if he is elected. There are also many stories of terrible quality of care, inappropriate pressure on physicians to sell drugs that Solantic has on sale in their facilities etc.

To be up front , my position was terminated suddenly with Solantic on 11/23/09 after I had confronted several of these issues. My termination was based on issues that I can't state here since I had to get an attorney to settle a termination agreement and get Solantic to stop using my name and license AFTER I was terminated. I am a board certified family practice doc with an impeccable record of being in practice in the state of Florida since 1985. I have NEVER had any suits against me, and I am a long time registered voting Republican. "Career Scammer" Rick Scott continues to fool the regular public while earning millions of dollars at his workers expense, and delivers medical care that is only concerned with profit at all costs, his so called "Retail Medicine". If you wish to contact me for further information please do. Thank you. Randy Prokes MD.

I am a fomer medical director for Solantic Urgent care in Jacksonville, and I have documents proving continued fraudulent billing practices by Mr Scotts companies.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 10:20am]


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