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Government sues Lahey Health

The Bermuda Government has filed a lawsuit at a Boston federal court against Lahey Health, alleging a conspiracy with Ewart Brown, the former premier, in what the Boston Business Journal describes as a bribery charge to divert services from the island to the Massachusetts facility.

The suit was reportedly filed yesterday by Trevor Moniz, the Attorney-General.

The matter was also reported early this morning by The Boston Globe, which said that Bermuda's “thousands of medically unnecessary scans”, carried out as a result of the arrangement, had placed the island among “the highest users of MRI and CT scans in the world”.

Dr Brown, whose local clinics were raided by police over the weekend, is alleged to have conspired with Lahey over the course of almost 20 years to channel Bermuda Government healthcare contracts to the facility in return for “bribes disguised as consulting fees”, the Journal stated.

The suit reportedly branded the arrangement “wildly successful” for both Lahey and Dr Brown, “at the expense of the Bermudian Government and people”.

Yesterday Christopher Murphy, a Lahey Health spokesman, said the Bermuda Government's suit had yet to be reviewed by the facility.

He however expressed confidence in Lahey's clean record of providing quality care to Bermudian patients.

“We will review these allegations and vigorously defend ourselves through every step of the legal process,” Mr Murphy added.

While the suit is directed at Lahey Health rather than Dr Brown, it alleges that the former premier used his position to ensure that Lahey ranked as the island's overseas partner of choice.

The relationship was said to begin in 1997, while Dr Brown served as the Shadow Minister for Human Affairs, and to have continued after he stepped down as premier in 2010.

The suit contends that Dr Brown paid “hundreds of thousands, if not millions” to have Lahey interpret CT and MRI scans from his clinic.

Bermudian insurers were said to have paid Lahey more than $40 million for services provided between 2006 and 2016.

The Journal article added that Dr Brown's consulting arrangement with Lahey included promoting healthcare opportunities in Bermuda and the Caribbean.

The article further stated that, in 2001, those fees totalled at least $125,000, and grew steadily over time.

In 2008, e-mails show that Dr Brown was paid $504,000 in consulting fees by Lahey, according to the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, according to The Boston Globe, the lawsuit includes details that Dr Brown and his wife were able to purchase a $3 million house on Marsha's Vineyard. It alleges that he collected fees from insurers and split the payments with Lahey to remotely read the results.

The news broke as the Progressive Labour Party issued a statement expressing concern at the lengthy investigation aimed at Dr Brown by local police, which over the course of almost six years had failed to yield charges of wrongdoing.

“An individual should not be clouded by a seemingly unlimited criminal investigation for an unspecified period,” the statement said.

It added that the confidentiality of patients' “sensitive medical files has been potentially put at risk and caused concern to those individuals”, and called for “a swift resolution to this lengthy and costly investigation”.

In his own statement issued after police descended on both the Brown-Darrell Clinic and Bermuda Healthcare Services, Dr Brown acknowledged that he had been the target of an investigation “ostensibly for political corruption” since 2011, but described the effort as baseless and politically motivated.

In May 2016, as part of what police called an ongoing financial investigation, the medical director at Bermuda Healthcare Services, Mahesh Reddy, was arrested.

Coming to Dr Reddy's defence in September of that year, Dr Brown dismissed allegations that his colleague had ordered excessive tests that were medically unnecessary. On that occasion he said that studies ordered by both his Bermuda clinics were screened by experts at Lahey to verify their validity.

Dr Brown's longstanding relationship with the Lahey Clinic has long been a matter of public record: in 1998, for example, he defended his close ties with the hospital and criticised local physicians who refused to refer patients to its consultancy services, calling on them to “cease and desist immediately and spend more of their time fixing the horrendous problems at our hospital”.

In 2003, Dr Brown described his practice's 1997 affiliation with Lahey as “a major milestone for us”.

Dr Brown, who was off the island at the time of the local police action on Saturday, has vowed to battle the longstanding investigation in Bermuda's courts, and to contest in particular the seizure of any patient records.

On occasion The Royal Gazette may decide to not allow comments on what we consider to be a controversial or contentious story. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

Ewart Brown, pictured in March 2016 receiving a plaque from Lahey Hospital and Medical Centre at his Bermuda Healthcare Services. Also pictured are Kelley McKinney and Mahesh Reddy of Bermuda Healthcare Services and Linda Moulton and Joanne Conroy of Lahey (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published February 15, 2017 at 12:30 am (Updated February 15, 2017 at 7:46 am)

Government sues Lahey Health

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