HMA says there's no connection between resignation and wrongful termination lawsuit

Naples-based Health Management Associates’ general counsel Tim Parry has resigned but company officials deny there is any connection to a recent wrongful termination lawsuit filed by a former compliance director who claims to have uncovered Medicare fraud.

Parry, 57, stepped down as general counsel of the for-profit hospital operator Jan. 5 and will remain with the company until March 2 during a transition, said HMA spokeswoman MaryAnn Hodge. He has been with HMA for 16 years.

“(Parry’s) resignation was for personal reasons,” she said, declining to comment further.

Parry submitted his resignation the same day that Health News Florida and the Daily News reported that a retired FBI investigator, Paul Meyer, filed a lawsuit Oct. 19 saying he was wrongfully fired from the company after uncovering and reporting Medicare fraud to company officials.

Meyer went to work for HMA in 2006 and became its compliance director in January 2010. Shortly thereafter he reported finding Medicare overcharging at four hospital systems, including at Physicians Regional at Pine Ridge and Collier Boulevard.

Hodge said there is no tie-in to Parry’s resignation and the lawsuit.

“That is pure speculation,” she said. “The two matters are independent of one another.”

HMA filed a counterclaim against Meyer for insubordination and for disclosing confidential internal information.

Linda Epstein, who joined HMA in 2008 after being in a private law practice in Naples, will serve as acting general counsel while a search is conducted for a new general counsel, Hodge said. Epstein joined HMA as associate general counsel of litigation and risk management.

HMA released fourth quarter per-share earnings of 25 cents to 26 cents, better than its forecasts of 17 cents to 21 cents. But several analysts said the per-share profit was 17 cents to 18 cents, and was at the company’s low end range and below Wall Street’s average forecast of 19 cents, according to MarketWatch.

On Tuesday, HMA shares dropped midday to a low of $4.81 its worst level since July 2009 following the fourth quarter report coupled with Parry’s resignation and concerns of the Medicare lawsuit, according to MarketWatch.

The stock closed higher Tuesday at $6.05.

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