The government’s complaint recycles a familiar set of allegations that mischaracterize the relationship between MLH and West Clinic. MLH will continue to vigorously defend against the allegations in the appropriate legal forum, but we believe it is necessary to specifically refute several claims at the core of the complaint:
Allegation: Methodist paid West large amounts to induce West to refer patients to Methodist.
Fact: The affiliation’s compensation structure was developed by reputable experts and reflected fair market value. Methodist received all the services it paid for under its affiliation agreements with West.
Allegation: Methodist paid West to perform inpatient management services at six hospitals but West only performed such services at two hospitals.
Fact: West’s work impacted all Methodist facilities, and it was paid fair market value for its services. Methodist’s oncology services have historically been consolidated at two hospitals because of their cancer expertise and for resource efficiency. Not surprisingly, the majority of West’s services were concentrated at these hospitals.
Allegation: West executives admitted in interviews after settling the case on behalf of West Clinic that Methodist paid them for management services they did not perform.
Fact: West, in public court filings, has vehemently denied this assertion; the allegation is also rebutted by interview notes and recorded interviews.
Taken together, these and other claims amount to after-the-fact second-guessing of the level of payments MLH made to West for the valuable health care services provided by its physicians.
Again, the affiliation’s compensation structure was designed by respected outside experts who determined it reflected fair market value for such services. Our payments were appropriate, and MLH received the services due under affiliation agreements. The government’s belated entry into the suit more than two years after it declined to do so has changed nothing about the case.
We are proud that our alliance with West succeeded in creating an integrated cancer diagnosis treatment and surgical service that not only improved cancer care, but also reduced health disparities and led to better patient outcomes for the Memphis and Mid-South communities.
As we have said repeatedly, we are confident that MLH’s affiliation with West Clinic was proper and reflected customary and legal business arrangements. It is undisputed that the affiliation brought much needed cancer care to our community and delivered the highest level of services, as part of our mission to provide high-quality, cost-effective patient and family-centered care.