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The first item on the Better World Books 2016 Reading Challenge is […]
John W. Schilling
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"Finally...my hard work and education are paying off." That's what John Schilling thought when he landed the job of Medicare reimbursement supervisor with Columbia Healthcare Corporation. For a humble accountant from small town Wisconsin, joining America's fastest-growing network of hospitals in Fort Myers, Florida, seemed like a fantastic opportunity for his career and his young family. That was before he stepped into a hornet's nest of corporate deceit and became a "whistleblower."
In Undercover, John Schilling recounts his nine-year journey from loyal employee to federal informant and top witness for the Justice Department's case against Columbia/HCA--the biggest and most formidable conglomerate in the healthcare business. It began in April 1994 with an intriguing question from a government auditor about a cost report for one of Columbia's facilities. As a professional who took his CPA code of ethics seriously, Schilling expected his boss to clear up what he assumed was an honest accounting error. Instead, the boss scheduled a conspiracy meeting. When his boss's boss urged diverting attention away from a mistake worth $3.5 million, Schilling faced a choice: Go along to get along or speak out and risk being fired, blackballed, and reviled. His courageous decision brought him more excitement, stress, turmoil, and money than he could have imagined.
In gripping, fast-paced chapters, Schilling reveals how he used his sense of moral outrage and a little known law, the False Claims Act, to launch a federal investigation into Columbia/HCA's systematic practice of ripping off Medicare and Medicaid. While retracing the arduous legal process, he relives his most thrilling and harrowing moments, including:
-His mission as a government spy inside Columbia/HCA--covertly taping conversations, photocopying incriminating documents, and mapping out offices for FBI raids.
-The tension of keeping his "sealed" lawsuit a secret from friends and family--even after another whistleblower's case against Columbia/HCA was featured on "60 Minutes."
-The shock of being labeled an "un-indicted co-conspirator" and the pressure of testifying for the Justice Department in the largest criminal healthcare fraud case in U.S. history.
In the end, Schilling's moral conviction resulted in the resignation of high-ranking executives and forced Columbia to return more than $1.7 billion to the federal government. It also raised public awareness of rampant cost-reporting violations and scams, increased healthcare industry compliance and vigilance, and made him a multi-millionaire. The inspiring story of one man's willingness to risk everything for the right thing, Undercover will make you think about the motives and role of a whistleblower in a fresh, heroic light.
John W. Schilling is a licensed CPA with 18 years of healthcare financial experience. He currently is a partner with EthicSoultions LLC, a consulting firm that assists law firms and the federal government with both civil and criminal healthcare fraud cases. He lives in Naples, Florida, with his wife Kirsten and their three children.
When John Schilling, an unassuming midlevel accountant, joined Columbia Healthcare Corporation--the nation's fastest-growing and revolutionary network of public hospitals--it seemed like the start of an exciting new career with great advancement and earnings potential. He never expected to become the catalyst for the series of "whistleblower" lawsuits that ripped through the healthcare industry in the late 1990s.
In Undercover, John Schilling tells the story of his harrowing journey from ordinary citizen and loyal employee to covert FBI informant and top witness for the Justice Department in the largest criminal healthcare fraud case in U.S. history. It began when he stumbled upon evidence--a $3.5 million accounting "error"--of his company's routine practice of defrauding Medicare. When pressured to comply with stealing from taxpayers, Schilling knew he had to speak up for what he believed was right, regardless of the cost to his job, his reputation, and his family. His courageous choice would consume the next nine years of his life, leading to more drama, angst, turmoil, and money than he could have imagined. Ultimately, Schilling's moral conviction and a little known law, the Fair Claims Act, paid off by forcing the formidable healthcare conglomerate of Columbia/HCA to pay back $1.7 billion to the federal government.
Revealing the personal side of a thankless role, Undercover is a gripping and inspiring account of a long, hard, life-changing quest for justice.
"Undercover crackles with authenticity as it recounts in a lively, readable style how a man on the inside risked everything and blew the whistle on a giant healthcare company that was systematically looting the Medicare program out of billions. A good read for anyone, but a must-read for someone who may contemplate taking the same path as John Schilling."
--John R. Phillips, "The nation's premier whistleblowing attorney," according to The Wall Street Journal and the National Law Journal
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