In this position, he oversaw $24 million in annual purchases of supplies and equipment and helped determine budget, reduction and cost analysis throughout the contract bidding and negotiations process.
His job was to insure proper implementation for purchasing, receiving and management of inventory, for McAllen Hospitals, L.P. The defendants were a subsidiary of Universal Health Services Inc., a company based in Pennsylvania that owns hospitals and other health care centers around the country.
The perceived wrongdoing between hospital and physicians was so rampant, that even though he did not have direct contact with physicians, they were visible to him, at least in part. He then pieced together multiple transactions, in which it appeared that the hospital had entered into financial relationships with doctors in McAllen in order to induce them to refer patients to the defendants’ hospitals. He described what appeared to be payments, disguised through a series of sham contracts, including medical directorships and lease agreements. (Under the Stark Statute, Medicare providers are prohibited from billing Medicare for referrals from doctors with whom the providers have a financial relationship, unless that relationship falls within certain exceptions).
After years of hard work and government investigation, negotiations with the defendants commenced. The hospital group ultimately agreed to pay $27.5 million to settle claims that it violated the False Claims Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Stark Statute between 1999 and 2006, by paying illegal compensation to doctors in order to induce them to refer patients to hospitals within the group.
As part of the Settlement Agreement, South Texas Health Systems entered into a 5-year Corporate Integrity Agreement that required it to establish procedures for tracking and evaluating financial arrangements between its health care facilities and their referral sources. The Agreement also required specific training for South Texas Health System representatives involved with financial arrangements, an independent third-party’s annual review of the health system’s compliance with certain Corporate Integrity Agreement obligations involving financial arrangements, and a report to the Office of Inspector General by the independent third-party reflecting the results of the review.
Of the settlement, the Department of Justice Assistant United States Attorney General said: “Improper financial relationships between health care providers and their referral sources can corrupt a physician’s judgment about the patient’s true healthcare needs. In addition to yielding a substantial recovery for taxpayers, [the] settlement should deter similar conduct in the future and help make health care more affordable for patients.”
After the case was concluded, Bruce has devoted himself to charitable work, his true calling Within a year of the settlement, Bruce moved to the Dallas Ft. Worth area and volunteered to be a Christian missionary. He gathered excess medical equipment and supplies, from a number of hospitals and GPO’s. The materials were sent via ocean freight to hospitals in West Africa, specifically Liberia and Sierra Leone. For nine years he traveled to those countries to assist hospital managements to use the materials and equipment sent and served as a consultant to those management teams. He designed and built several water systems that brought running water to several remote clinics and emergency rooms. He survived the Ebola crisis, refurbished water wells, and supported volunteer physicians and health professionals as they delivered much needed health care in remote locations.
He now lives with his wife of 49 years in Texas and continues to assemble medical supplies and excess equipment for shipment to third world countries. Of the False Claims Act Qui Tam provisions and his case, he says: “Early in my career, I sat with a very influential leader in the health care business, he told me to remember one thing “Good People Beget Good People.” Bruce feels strongly that “hospital corporations can’t wake up one day and say: “We follow all rules, regulations, and law,’ wake up the next day and say ‘forget the law,’ and the next day wake up and say, ‘we’re above the law. There’s no credibility there.” Of the False Claims Act Qui Tam provisions, Bruce is grateful. He indicates: “the law allowed me to step away from a path that violated my own conscience, and remember the words, “Good People, Beget Good People.”