Mary Free Bed doctor on leave for ‘irregular billing practices’

Mary Fee Bed, Dr. Stephen Bloom
Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital Dr. Stephen Bloom. (March 15, 2017)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital doctor has been placed on administrative leave due to alleged irregular billing practices.

An investigation is underway into Dr. Stephen Bloom, one of the hospital’s medical directors. Mary Free Bed CEO Kent Riddle informed employees on Wednesday that “irregular billing practices” by Bloom were discovered.

The hospital is required by state and federal law to report that the so-called irregularities occurred.

Bloom is a popular, highly regarded, triple-certified doctor at the hospital who has been recognized at the state and national level for his work in brain injury. He is the medical director of the Wounded Warrior Brain Injury program.

The University of Michigan and Michigan State University graduate has been with Mary Free Bed since 1994 and has appeared many times on 24 Hour News 8 — most recently last year as he helped in the rehabilitation of a heavy metal drummer injured in a tour bus crash.

A spokesperson for Mary Free Bed declined to appear on camera Wednesday, but said the situation with Bloom will not affect patient care, and that the hospital is trusting the judicial process and fully cooperating with authorities.

The hospital did say that the irregularities involved Medicaid and/or Medicare services.

Little about the alleged irregular billing practices is currently known, including whether Bloom himself or someone at his office is thought to be at fault. The Medicaid billing process if complex and it is entirely possible that there was no criminal intent is involved.

Because the case involves Medicaid/Medicare, agencies including the Michigan Attorney General, the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI could be involved. 24 Hour News 8 contacted all of those agencies, but none of them will comment on ongoing investigations or even confirm that investigations are taking place.

Investigators say that when and if anything comes of the probe, they will let us know.

Michigan has been cracking down on Medicaid financing in the wake of a report that showed that Michigan was among the 10 states with the most overpayments, according to the Center for Medicare Integrity.

In 2014, the group said Michigan had nearly $63 million in overpayments — nearly $50 per Medicaid recipient. In 2015, that number was down to $10.6 million or $8.40 per recipient, putting Michigan at number 24 among all the states.

Wednesday, 24 Hour News 8 reached out to Bloom at his home since he is not currently practicing and received a letter from his attorney, but no statement.