After five years of litigation which could have resulted in a maximum penalty of $100 million dollars, the Adventist Health System West decided to pay a much smaller settlement penalty amounting to $14.1 million dollars to the government and the whistleblowers. What follows is a number of comments I selected from several public media reports:
“Adventist Health System/West and its affiliated hospital White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles will pay the government $14.1 million to resolve claims that they violated the False Claims Act. This was a whistleblower ( qui tam ) suit, and the two doctors who originally filed it will get $2,839,219.”
“The rest of the settlement will go to the U.S. Government ($11.5 million) and the California Department of Health Care Services ($2.6 million).”
“While Adventist does not need to admit fault in the settlement, the allegation in the suit was that it hospital, White Memorial, selling them medical and non-medical supplies and inventory at a discount that was less than fair market value and also paid the physicians more than fair market value to teach at the hospital’s family practice residency program.”
The legal and moral reasons for the penalty imposed on the Adventist Health System are quite explicit as evident from the following report:
“Doctors must make treatment decisions based on the best interests of their patients rather than on personal financial interests, which is why hospitals can’t pay doctors for patient referrals,” said Claire M. Sylvia, a whistleblower lawyer with Phillips & Cohen in San Francisco. “The government found out about what Adventist was doing only because two doctors challenged the system by filing a whistleblower lawsuit.”
“The whistleblowers alleged that Adventist Health violated the Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute. The Stark Law states that hospitals may not seek reimbursement for claims based on referrals from physicians with whom they have a financial relationship. The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits payment in exchange for referring, recommending or arranging for the purchase of any item or service paid for under a federal health care program such as Medicare or Medicaid. The complaint also alleged violations of the California Business and Professions Code and the California Welfare and Institutions Code, which prohibit compensation for patient referrals. Violations of these federal and state laws result in the submission of false claims for payment to Medicare and California’s Medi-Cal program, which violates the federal False Claims Act and the California False Claims Act.”
This was confirmed by a recent Los Angles Times report:
“Kickbacks and other unlawful financial arrangements cost taxpayer dollars and undermine the integrity of medical judgments,” said Stuart Delery, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil division.”
“White Memorial is part of Adventist Health in Roseville, Calif., which runs 19 hospitals and more than 150 clinics in California, Oregon, Hawaii and Washington. The 353-bed nonprofit hospital near downtown Los Angeles was founded by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1913.”
As a member of the Adventist Church, I feel my share of shame to learn that a highly respectable organization created and sponsored by the church did allegedly engage in illegal practices for financial gain to the detriment of patients and taxpayers. We need to stay above even the apparent suspicion of moral turbidity.
“Stark Law prohibits a physician from referring Medicare patients for certain health services to any business or entity with which the doctor has a financial relationship.”
““The settlement announced today underscores one of the key purposes of the Stark and Anti-Kickback laws – to ensure that the judgment exercised by healthcare providers is based on legitimate patient needs and is not influenced by illegal payments,” said Benjamin B. Wagner, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California. …”
I noticed that in the recent response you received from the General Conference, you were directed to the Adventist “Guidelines on Abortion.” Some years ago, I received a similar answer from a representative of the GC, and I found the testimony of someone identified as “earlysda” who got the same response.
“I have writeen President Ted Wilson twice about this issue, and both times received a response referring me to the “Guidelines on Abortion” document that the church has. Does our church have “Guidelines on Sabbath-Breaking” or “Guidelines on Stealing” too?”
It looks like the reference to the Adventist “Guidelimnes on Abortion” is the standard reponse to everybody who writes to the General Conference regarding the issue of abortion. Do we deal that way on other important doctrinal issues? When someone asks us about the Sabbath, for example, do we say: Read our Guidelines on Sabbath Observance? No! We say, Read Exodus 20!
Why is it that when dealing with the violation of the Sixth Commandment instead of the Fourth, we refer people to our humanly created document dealing with abortion instead of the Decalogue? The apparent reason is that we have set aside what God wrote with his own hand on tables of stone and replaced it with rules of our own devising.
Since the creation of the Adventiust movement, we have emphasized the importance of avoiding the substitution of God’s Word with humanly devised tradition, and we have blamed Rome for having done that, but we now have made the same mistake. We have replaced God’s Word with our own tradition which tends to justify what the Lord has clearly forbidden: the shedding of innocent blood.
This seems to indicate that we have ceased to be God’s chosen people, those who keep God’s Commandments, and are no longer God’s special people with the last message of hope for a perishing world. My opinion is that it is high time for us to abandon those guidelines on killing the most innocent members of humanity and return to a “Thus said the Lord,” because Jesus said: “Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these you have done it to me!”
You might remember the case of Terri Schiavo who was starved to death for lack of food and water by order of the court. The picture of the ten year old boy who was arrested by the police for the crime of trying to give the dying woman a glass of water is still fresh in my mind.
Well, since then, there have been many similar cases with similar outcomes. So the question is: Is food and water extraordinary or basic care? Can relatives demand that a patient be deprived of food and water on the premise that water and nourishment represent extraordinary medical care?
This question was submitted to the British Columbia Supreme Court recently, and you will be surprised by the ruling of the court. I picked a few paragraphs from an article written by Colin Kerr and published by LifeSiteNews entitled “Food and water is basic care, not medical intervention: British Columbia Supreme Court.”
Vancouver, B.C., February 4, 2014 (LifeSite extNews.com) – A British Columbia court has ruled that food and water is basic care and so cannot be withdrawn as though it were an extraordinary medical intervention.
In a decision issued Monday, Justice Greyell of the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled the nursing home where Alzheimer patient Margaret Bentley resides would be guilty of neglect were it to follow Bentley’s 1991 living will.
“Withdrawing oral nutrition and hydration for an adult that is not capable of making that decision would constitute neglect within the meaning of the Adult Guardianship Act,” he wrote.
Bentley’s family sought a declaration from the court that she “not be given nourishment or liquids,” asserting that she had “expressed strong wishes while she was mentally capable that she did not want to be given nourishment or liquids in her current condition,” the court documents stated.
Bentley, who is 82, is a patient at Maplewood Care, an elderly care facility in Abbotsford. The facility was among the parties opposing the family’s legal action. There she is being spoon- and cup-fed, but is not being force-fed.
Expert opinion heeded by the court determined that Bentley is at an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s, but is not, in fact, dying as a result of the disease. Because of this, the judge determined that the withdrawal of nourishment would be the cause of her death, and therefore illegal. …
The question of origins has been debated for centuries. Darwin suggested that the scientific evidence favor the claim that we share with apes a common ancestor, while creationists argue that the same scientific facts can be explained by a common design approach.
The question is: Which of these opposite explanations makes more sense? Sean Pitman, who has investigated this topic more deeply than most of us, has written an article dealing with this topic. The title is: “Homologies, Phylogenies, Sequence Space and the Theory of Evolution.” It starts this way:
“How is plagiarism detected? Let’s say a student claims to have written a paper, but the teacher discovers that much of it appears to be identical, save for few words here and there, and a few paragraph modifications, to a paper she discovered on the internet. Would this not be excellent evidence that the student’s paper is not original work? – that the student did in fact “borrow” the work from someone else? – that the paper in question was derived from another source?
Scientists come to the very some conclusions when it comes to the study of biology. Various anatomic and genetic similarities are judged to have been derived from a common source or origin. For example, most of the gene comparisons between humans and apes are nearly identical. And, even a comparison between humans and bananas produces ~50% genetic similarity for various gene comparisons (Link).
In fact, all living things share so many features, to include the same basic genetic code and basic building blocks (DNA and the same amino acids to build proteins) that it seems certain that all life on this planet did in fact have a common origin of some kind. The question, of course, is what common origin?
Most scientists today believe that the common origin of all life on this planet can best be explained by the modern view of Darwinian Evolution where life on this planet began in some primordial pond where the basic building blocks self-assembled to produce the first living, self-replicating, single celled organism.
From this humble beginning, random genetic mutations and natural selection (RM/NS) took over and transformed this first living thing, over a billion years or so, into all the diversity of life that we see today.
However, there are a few who question this popular story of common descent via the evolutionary mechanism of random mutations and natural selection (RM/NS). Although a distinct minority, both creationists and those who wish to promote various concepts of intelligent design, argue that the Darwinian mechanism isn’t capable of explaining the fantastic diversity of life at such high levels of functional complexity that currently exists on this planet.
Even those IDists who believe in common descent of some kind over vast periods of time argue that some very intelligent and very powerful mind, even a God or a God-like mind, must have been involved with the creation of life and its diversity on this planet. …”
On January 29 “Specrum Magazine” published an article entitled “Ben Carson Joins Newt Gingrich’s Anti-Obamacare PAC,” authored by Jared Wright, and I counted 620 comments already today. Why so much interest in the topic? Two reasons: A. Dr. Ben Carson is the first Adventist being asked by 250,000 signators so far to run for the 2016 presidential nomination by the Republican Party, and B. At the end of his interview with the Spectrum correspondent, Carson made the following surprising comment:
“Abortions that are done on-demand are not within the purview of God’s will. We sit around and criticize ancient pagans for sacrificing babies and saying what heathens they were. But are we really any different if we go around killing babies because they’re inconvenient?”
The result so far has been that Carson’s supporters are among non-Adventists, while Adventists are his main detractors. One of the bloggers stated that Carson has been roasted by the Spectrum crowd. Another blogger named Billman, challenged me to submit some facts as evidence that the Adventist Church is not pro-life, but rather pro-choice. Here is a copy of my response to him:
Billman, I am glad you asked. I will limit myself to a few facts; I can provide more upon request. I do have quite a few, because that was the topic of my doctoral dissertation.
Fact One: Our Adventist pioneers were more pro-life than I am. If you need evidence, let me know.
Fact Two: In 1970, when the non-Adventist physicians at our Castle Memorial Hospital [CMH] demanded their right to offer elective abortions on demand, the management panicked and elevated this request to the North American Division [NAD]
Fact Three: Neal Wilson, who was the president of the NAD, after consultation, publicly made the following declaration:
“Though we walk the fence, Adventists lean toward abortion rather than against it. Because we realize we are confronted by big problems of hunger and overpopulation, we do not oppose family planning and appropriate endeavors to control population.”
George Gainer, The Wisdom of Solomon? Spectrum 19/4 (May 1989): 38-46.
Fact Four: The General Conference [GC] delegated the responsibility to draft guidelines on abortion to the newly created Ethics Department at Loma Linda University [LLU]. Of course, LLU had a vested interest in abortion and organ transplantation, the result was a document which contains a lofty statement about the value of human life, but justifies the killing of innocent unborn babies under a variety of circumstances, including when the unwanted pregnancy affects the mental health of a woman. This opened the door wide for elective abortion on demand.
Fact Five: Our Castle Memorial Hospital began offering elective abortions, and soon after other Adventist institutions followed the CMH lead among them Shady Grove Hospital [SGH] and our Washington Adventist Hospital [WAH]. This was documented by the Washington Post more than once and by our own Adventist publications. This prompted a public manifestation with protesters carrying signs which read: “Thou shalt not kill.”
Fact Six: A friend of mine called the GC and asked for a confirmation that our church was no longer pro-life but rather pro-choice. She got an affirmative answer with the following surprising comment: “Our WAH has become an abortion mill.”
Fact Seven: James Walters, a LLU professor, published a book in which he affirmed that our church is now pro-choice regarding abortion—and pro-choice means pro-choice for killing innocent unborn children.
Since I have reached the perfect number—seven—I will stop, but I can provide additional facts upon request. This is the reason our Adventist pastors are afraid to condemn abortion from the pulpit, and the same applies to our media.
The fear of men has replaced the fear of God. God pronounced four words condemning the killing of innocent human beings. We Adventists employed 1314 words to negate what the Lord wrote on tables of stone with his own finger. You can verify this comparing Exodus 20 with our Adventist “Guidelines on Abortion.”
We need to repent and thrash our “Guidelines on Abortion.” Pro-life entities do not need guidelines on murder.
I will provide documentation for the above facts upon request!