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Columbia’s El Paso steps down, says it’s not due to probe

October 9, 1997

EL PASO, Texas (AP) _ The head of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.’s El Paso division said he is leaving the operation federal agents first targeted in a probe of alleged Medicaid fraud.

Randall Rolfe, president and chief executive of the division, said Wednesday his departure for a consulting job in San Diego is not related to the investigation that led federal agents to raid Columbia sites in the city in March.

``This is basically my opportunity to accept a new position, which is very attractive for both my personal and professional life,″ Rolfe said Wednesday.

Rolfe has spent three years at Columbia and for two years has been commuting to California to visit his wife and three daughters. He will become a vice president and part-owner of Practice Development Strategies, a consulting firm that also manages doctors’ practices.

Columbia’s El Paso holdings, which include two general care hospitals and several treatment centers, will be headed by Chris Holden, who now administers the company’s five-state region from Dallas.

Holden takes charge amid troubled times for the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chain.

Federal agents in March began seizing files at Columbia facilities throughout El Paso as part an investigation that prompted raids in seven states in July. Three mid-level managers have been indicted in Florida.

Federal authorities are looking into allegations that Columbia fraudulently inflated administrative costs to boost reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid and the government’s military health program. Officials in nearly a dozen states also have acknowledged independent inquiries into whether Columbia overbilled state Medicaid programs.

Columbia has 347 hospitals, 148 outpatient surgery centers and more than 570 home health care locations in 36 states, England, Switzerland and Spain.

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