Medicare Billed For Concerts

An Atlanta health insurance company booked national artists for the company’s annual management meetings at Florida’s Disney World, then billed Medicare for the costs.

Birmingham-based HealthSouth previously admitted to improperly billing Medicare for pricy entertainment and other expenses as part of a $325 million settlement and was ordered by the Justice Department to repay that amount.

Performers weren’t disclosed until a report in The Birmingham News cited interviews with former HealthSouth officials.

Faith Hill, Alabama, Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn, Amy Grant and KC & The Sunshine Band were booked between 1996 and 2001 for the awards program that wrapped up the conference, according to the paper. About 1,000 of the company’s top executives and guests usually attended.

Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy is on trial on criminal charges accusing him of masterminding accounting fraud at the company.

According to the News, Scrushy defended the Orlando meetings — which reportedly cost as much as $3.2 million to put on — by saying the confabs brought the company “tens of millions of dollars” when management shared cost-saving strategies and other information.

Charlie Russell, a spokesman for Scrushy, said the Medicare billing “had to be negligible.” He said HealthSouth Corp.’s new management probably put the information in the settlement agreement “for PR effect to show the government was doing its job.”