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NE Houston hospital unable to pay employees, blames new Medicare payment facilitator

Thursday, January 09, 2014
NE Houston hospital unable to pay employees

Nearly 150 employees, ranging from doctors to nurses, haven't been paid in nearly a month, and the CEO says it's not his fault

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Dozens of employees at a hospital in northeast Houston have had to make it through the holidays without getting paid for weeks. The CEO of Saint Anthony's Hospital on Little York is blaming a new Medicare payment contractor for his payroll problems.

Nearly 150 employees, ranging from doctors to nurses and administrators, haven't been paid in nearly a month, and the CEO says it's not his fault.

For the neighbors around St. Anthony'S Hospital, the care has been convenient.

"Since it was close and I was bleeding, I had to come over here," former patient Delores Cano said.

But that could soon change. According to the CEO Jason Leday, more than 150 employees haven't been paid in nearly a month.

"I understand that they have children and a house payment, bills. Not getting paid is wow," nearby resident Theresa Gutierrez said.

The hospital is strapped for cash not because its not making money, but because Leday says a new Medicare payment facilitator named Novitas Solutions is taking too way long to pay out Medicare claims to the hospital.

Leday says he's owed nearly $3 million in payments from Medicare and can't make payroll.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, Leday said:

"I'm very remorseful and disappointed that we can't provide paychecks for those employees. It breaks my heart."

Leday said he hasn't collected a paycheck either in nearly a year. He said he's had to give gas and grocery money to his employees from his personal bank account.

"its been hard for everybody," Leday said. "This is a national issue that affects us locally. We are adapting to the new ways of doing business that have been created. We think we can be successful in 2013 and can take care of all of our employees through the transition."

The Texas Hospital Association says they are familiar with complaints like this one regarding the Medicare payment facilitator and a representative told us smaller community hospitals like this one are in similar situations. (*Corrects an earlier error in which this comment was incorrectly attributed to the Texas Medical Association.")

After our story ran, we received the following from Novitas: ""Our records reflect that the hospital you reference has been paid in accordance with Medicare guidelines and processes since the beginning of the year. Novitas Solutions (Novitas) is committed to paying Medicare claims accurately in order to protect the Medicare Trust Fund. We take proactive measures to educate providers in our jurisdictions on submitting claims properly and encourage them to contact us with any enrollment or payment questions."

Find Foti on Facebook at ReporterFotiKallergis or on Twitter at @FotiKallergis

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