Dr. Howard Beck’s lawsuit against Covenant for fraud tossed out


LUBBOCK, Texas — Doctor Howard Beck filed a motion Tuesday in federal court in his case against Covenant Health and St. Joseph Health System. Specifically, Beck asked a federal judge to reconsider a November 30 ruling against Beck and in favor of Covenant.

In September 2016, Beck filed a lawsuit against Covenant (and its parent organization St. Joseph) claiming, among other things, fraud. In essence, Beck accused Covenant of overpaying doctors and overbilling Medicare and Medicaid.

A federal judge rejected all of Beck’s claims.

For starters, Beck was trying to recover money on behalf the federal government in the form of Qui Tam lawsuit. In order to do that, he had to have direct knowledge of wrongdoing.

“However, [Beck] fails to address [Covenant’s] arguments regarding how his knowledge is neither direct nor independent,” the judge concluded.

“There is no evidence that [Covenant and St. Joseph] violated the Anti-Kickback [law] …,” the judge also wrote. “There is no evidence that [Covenant and St. Joseph] entered an ‘unlawful agreement’ to submit false claims…”

To the contrary, the judge noticed that one of the first things Steven R. McCamy did as the then-President and CEO of Covenant Medical, starting in 2008, was to reduce 120 physician contracts from the 75th percentile of salaries down to the 50th percentile.

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On Tuesday Covenant submitted a request that Beck be ordered to pay attorney fees and court costs. Also on Tuesday, Beck filed a motion to reconsider.

The motion said in part, “The Court ignores a vast presentation of evidence upon which a reasonable jury could conclude [Covenant and St. Joseph] acted willfully.”

It’s actually the second motion to reconsider. The first was denied.

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