A dif­fer­ent kind of billing prob­lem

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers -

The Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­i­can Hos­pi­tals and Amer­i­can Hos­pi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion warned their mem­bers last week of a pos­si­ble scam that re­minds Out­liers of a bit from the late, great sit­com “Se­in­feld.”

An af­fil­i­ate mem­ber of the fed­er­a­tion re­ceived a $650 in­voice for an­nual dues from the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­i­can Hos­pi­tals, ac­cord­ing to the warn­ing that the fed­er­a­tion e-mailed and Jeff Mick­los, the fed­er­a­tion’s ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and gen­eral coun­sel. The check was to be ad­dressed to “FAH As­so­ci­a­tion” at a post of­fice box in South Eas­ton, Mass. To make the in­voice look valid, it even con­tained a tax iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber, Mick­los says.

The fed­er­a­tion no­ti­fied the lo­cal post of­fice that cov­ers South Eas­ton and the In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice, and then de­cided that its mem­bers should be no­ti­fied, too, Mick­los says. So far, the fed­er­a­tion has re­ceived no other re­ports of fake in­voices, Mick­los adds.

Like­wise the AHA sent out a “po­ten­tial fraud alert” to mem­ber in its AHA NewsNow daily e-news­let­ter ask­ing mem­bers who re­ceived such an in­voice to con­tact the AHA and the ap­pro­pri­ate law en­force­ment agen­cies.

The Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­i­can hos­pi­tals doesn’t ex­ist, but the name sounds plau­si­ble, and that is where the “Se­in­feld” con­nec­tion clicked for Out­liers. In a 1997 episode of the fa­mous com­edy about noth­ing, cheap­skate Ge­orge Costanza “gives” his co-work­ers Christ­mas cards telling them that a do­na­tion has been made in their name to the Hu­man Fund, a char­ity Costanza made up. Its slo­gan? “Money for peo­ple.”

Costanza was on to some­thing, with the name at least: Eight years af­ter the episode aired, a Cleve­land char­ity that sup­ports arts ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams for un­der­served youth adopted the name.

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