Monday, February 20, 2017

UCSD Battles Chico State to Series Split

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BASEBALL — The No. 3 nationally ranked UCSD men’s baseball team suffered a heartbreaking series opener when it hosted No. 23 Chico State at Triton Ballpark from Feb. 19 through Feb. 21.

The Tritons opened CCAA play by carrying a 6-3 lead into the final frame, but the Triton wheels came off and the Wildcats came back for a 10-9 win against the UCSD bullpen.

Junior right-hander Tim Shibuya turned in a solid effort for UCSD, allowing four earned runs and striking out an impressive nine Wildcat hitters over 8.1 innings.

Despite carrying a lead into the ninth inning, a three-run home run dagger gave Chico an 8-6 lead which the team then built on with seven more ninth-inning runs for a 10-6 victory.

A three-run shot off the bat of junior outfielder Kyle Saul gave the Tritons one last gasp of breath in the bottom of the ninth, but they ended up falling one run short at 9-10.

Saul finished the game one single short of the cycle, going 3-5 with four RBIs.

“One adjustment we need to make as a team is to make sure that we dictate the tempo of the game and take our game to the other team,” Saul said. “As an offense, we need to make sure that we keep our approach at the plate for the entire game.”

The second game of the doubleheader — postponed to Saturday due to weather — ended in another win for Chico, who outlasted the Tritons through 11 innings to notch a 9-6 victory.

Senior catcher Kellen Lee’s cycle from the plate provided one of the few bright spots in the game for the Tritons in the extra inning battle, but wasn’t enough to defeat the Wildcats, who scored three runs in the 11th inning.

“One thing we did not do well was take advantage of our opportunities we had on offense with runners [in] scoring position,” Lee said. “Chico did come through in those situations. We just left too many people on base.”

The Tritons were eager to at least split the series with Chico, and dug deep in the final two games of the series, thanks to a series of strong pitching performances.

Immediately after the rescheduled game, the Tritons played another nine innings with more favorable results.

Senior right-hander Matt Rossman tossed a complete game for the 4-3 win.

Rossman got off to a slow start in the third game, giving up back-to-back doubles that led to two first-inning runs.

However after giving up three runs on six hits in the first two innings, Rossman settled down to shut the Wildcats out for the final seven innings, en route to a complete game victory.

The Tritons took the lead in the fifth inning when senior outfielder Robert Sedin doubled, and fellow senior shortstop Vance Albitz followed with a single.

Junior third-baseman Evan Kehoe then hit a sacrifice fly, giving the Tritons a 4-3 lead.

Rossman struck out five and walked just two in the 4-3 victory, improving his record to 2-0 and pitching his first complete game of the season.

UCSD salvaged the series split by winning the fourth game 8-7 on Sunday.

After the Wildcats came out with a four-run lead in the second, hopes of a series split looked unlikely for the Tritons — but three runs in the third and three more in the fifth gave UCSD a 6-4 lead.

UCSD senior starting pitcher Kirby St. John clamped down after allowing four early runs to the Wildcats, pitching into the seventh inning with the lead.

He was followed by senior reliever Eric Abraham, who quickly allowed two Wildcat runners on base — warranting his substitution for sophomore reliever Elias Tuma.

Tuma entered the game at a tense a 7-7 game, with the bases loaded and one out in the top half of the second.

He answered the call brilliantly, escaping the inning after inducing a 1-2-3 double play and leaving the game all tied up.

In the bottom half of the eighth, Saul started things off for UCSD with a walk. Senior outfielder Chris Fung advanced Saul to first on a grounder, and after senior first baseman Brandon Gregorich was intentionally walked, a double steal by Saul and Gregorich put Triton men on second and third.

After Kehoe was hit by a pitch, Benton stepped up to the plate with bases loaded and came through for UCSD with a sacrifice fly to center, propelling the Tritons to an 8-7 win and series split.

“One thing that we did very well was never giving up,” Lee said. “We were down a few runs at one point in each game, and we continuously fought back to make it [a] closer game, and even took the lead. That is one thing that exemplifies our program as a whole. We never let down, whether we are winning or losing.”

Tritons now sit at 11-3 overall and 2-2 in CCAA action. Chico State stands at 6-2 in CCAA play.

The Tritons will complete their homestand as they continue conference action against Cal State Monterey Bay University.

The Tritons then bring their string of successes up against the Otters.

Last season, the Tritons managed to win all four games in Seaside. The first pitch of the series is slotted for 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26 at Triton Ballpark.

“All we need to do is take care of the baseball on defense and capitalize on the offensive opportunities we have,” Lee said. “When we play the way we can, and stick to our overall approach as a team, we will be pretty tough to beat moving forward in the season.”

Readers can contact Cameron Tillisch at

Hot-Hitting Seawolves Spring Off Triton Errors

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SOFTBALL — Shaky defense and inconsistent hitting led to three losses in the Tritons’ four-game series against

Sonoma State University from Feb. 27 through Feb. 28. Despite a solid showing from UCSD’s pitching staff, untimely errors in the field and a string of lousy hits derailed the Tritons’ chances of taking down the No. 3 Seawolves. The losses dropped the Triton record to 8-8 overall and 6-6 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, while Sonoma improved to 11-4 overall and 6-2 in the CCAA.

Entering the series with the CCAA’s best team earned run average (ERA), UCSD faced its toughest challenge of the season against the Seawolves, who hold the conference’s highest batting average. The games were relocated to Santa Rosa Junior College, two hours away, after a steady downpour canceled Friday’s series-opening doubleheader.

Both teams tried to jump out to a quick start Saturday morning, but the Tritons never got the ball rolling. They mustered only four hits over seven innings, and wasted a three-run (two earned) effort from sophomore right-hander Camille Gaito en route to a 3-0 Seawolf victory.

Senior catcher Nicole Saari said the team was not at its best.

“We had a lot of errors in the first game,” she said. “And our hitting didn’t come through.”

The Tritons finally scored their first runs of the series in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, but were ultimately undone by an offense that collected only four hits for the second consecutive game.

UCSD used a Seawolf error and a two-out single off the bat of junior outfielder Kris Lesovsky to grab a 2-1 second-inning lead. Sonoma answered with a three-run rally in the bottom half of the fourth inning, and with the Triton offense unable to get the best of Sonoma freshman pitcher Samantha Lipperd, the Seawolves cruised to a 4-2 victory.

Riding a three-game losing streak — dating back to their loss to their to Cal State East Bay on Feb. 20 — head coach Patti Gerckens sent Gaito back on the mound to play stopper on Sunday morning in game three. The CCAA ERA leader emphatically responded to her coach’s decision in the Tritons’ 2-0 win.

Gaito picked up four strikeouts and didn’t walk a single batter, earning her a fifth complete-game shutout this season.

Sophomore outfielder Kellin Haley put UCSD on the board in the second inning with a solo shot to left field — the first of the transfer’s career as a Triton. Lesovsky came up with another two-out RBI single in the seventh inning, plating freshman infielder Dyanna Imoto to give Gaito some extra run support before she closed out the game.

Gerckens said her team’s pitching staff should be credited with keeping the games close and giving the Tritons a chance to win, but added that the team’s inability to come up with big hits is a major problem.

“Our pitching has been fantastic, so we just really need to score people when they are in scoring position,” Gerckens said.

With a series split on the line, the Tritons saw another close game slip away, stranding too many base runners in the late innings for a 4-3 loss.

The Seawolves wasted little time in the afternoon, putting up a quick run in the first inning for a 1-0 lead. UCSD was held scoreless until the fourth inning, when a leadoff double from Lesovsky and a Sonoma error allowed the Tritons to score twice and grab a 2-1 lead.

However, the Triton lead would not persevere: The Seawolves came back with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning for a 3-2 advantage.

That score held until the top of the sixth, when UCSD came up with its first clutch at-bat of the series — a game-tying pinch-hit single from freshman infielder Nicole Spangler. However, the Seawolves answered back with a go-ahead solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, which proved to be the game-winner. In its last inning at the plate, UCSD loaded the bases with two outs, but senior shortstop Mandi Eliades flew out to left field to end the game — stranding three of the Triton’s game-high seven runners.

After dropping three of four games, Gerckens said the Tritons see better offense as the key to surmounting above their .500 record. UCSD will travel north to take on San Francisco State University in a four-game series starting March 5.

“We need more consistency in our hitting, and we’re looking for someone who is going to step up and be our clutch hitter,” Gerckens said. “If we string a couple more hits together, we’ll be able to score one or two more runs, and come out with a win.”

Readers can contact Jake Blanc at

Doctors: Pot Can Cure All That Ails You


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Potheads clinging religiously to their medical-marijuana cards can rest assured: UCSD’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research released a study on Feb. 11 confirming weed as a legitimate medical treatment.

According to J.H. Atkinson, co-director at CMRC, cannabis can significantly improve quality of life for patients suffering neuropathic pain — or, pain caused by damage to the nervous system from spinal-cord injuries or diseases like diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

“The major findings were that for chronic neuropathic pain, cannabis gave a good foundation — or good pain relief — that is roughly on par with the relief given by standard treatment,” Atkinson said.

The findings are backed by five clinical trials and four pre-clinical studies (meant to test a product’s safety before use on humans). In these trials, subjects with either HIV-related or neuropathic pain smoked cannabis cigarettes, or joints, at varying concentrations.

“Fifty percent of the patients in one trial had a pain reduction of 30 percent or more, and that 30-percent reduction is known to be clinically important because it’s associated with a better quality of life,“ Atkinson said.

According to Atkinson, chronic pain is a serious affliction for those suffering long-term diseases, and can prevent them from carrying out everyday activities. For example, patients with multiple sclerosis experience disabling pain and muscle spasms, which could eventually deprive them of their ability to walk.

“[One of the] findings was with the specificity of multiple sclerosis,” Atkinson said. “Cannabis provided moderate pain relief for the muscle spasms.”

The study demonstrated that cannabis was just as effective as painkillers or pain relievers in treating neuropathic pain. In addition, the trials revealed that marijuana’s efficiency does not depend on how much tetrohydrocannabinol — the main active component of cannabis — the patient consumes.

“Low doses of cannabis were just as effective as higher doses,” Atkinson said.

In a second study, healthy subjects were injected with capsaicin — the “hot” ingredient in chili peppers — to induce pain after the subjects had smoked cannabis cigarettes. The results proved a narrow therapeutic range for concentrations of THC: While low doses of THC did not alleviate the effects of the capsaicin, higher doses actually increased the amount of pain subjects felt.

“There is a narrow therapeutic window — that is, a concentration of THC in the bloodstream — that was therapeutic, whereas all concentration above or below that amount were not,” Atkinson said.

This finding suggests that the use of cannabinoids as a pain reliever is complex, and does not follow the mechanism of known pain relievers such as morphine or aspirin.

The participants were unknowingly given cigarettes with or without THC to control for the placebo effect — a phenomenon where subjects convince themselves they are feeling less pain just because they think they have consumed medicine. The studies showed a significant reduction in pain with THC compared to the placebo.

The use of cannabis as a therapeutic substance has been contested in both the scientific and political communities due to its strong psychological effects, and relatively unknown physiological ones.

THC alters perception, cognitive control, emotions, memory and other psychological aspects. It can also cause anxiety, paranoia and increased susceptibility to psychosis.

Due to the toxic and carcinogenic wastes emitted from cigarettes, the smoking of joints also has obvious health risks, including lung and heart diseases.

A cleaner alternative to a joint or a bong known as a “volcano” vaporizes cannabis with heat to release its THC — which can then be inhaled without the carcinogens and toxic wastes from cigarettes.

Though vaporizer trials have not been completed, preliminary CMCR studies show that vaporizers allow for the same amount of THC to circulate the system as marijuana cigarettes.

“We found that the concentration of THC was very comparable — a vaporizer did just as well to deliver THC as a cigarette,” Atkinson said.

Politically, the use of cannabis — whether through cigarettes or a vaporizer — has been highly contested since the federal Marihuana Tax Act first made the drug illegal in 1937.

Currently, policymakers like Michele Leonhardt, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, worry that dispensaries — pharmacies that specifically distribute medical marijuana — would open the door to more widespread use of illegal drugs.

Though medical marijuana is illegal under federal law and the DEA frequently raids dispensaries, 12 states — including California — allow dispensaries to distribute cannabis to those with medical-marijuana cards. These cards, which can be prescribed to a patient by a physician, state that the patient needs marijuana to help treat symptoms like pain or insomnia.

Because THC remains in fat cells for approximately one month, policymakers are also concerned about marijuana’s effects on driving ability. Studies at the Lakehead University in Ontario have shown that cannabis impairs motor skills.

Though UCSD scientists controlled the exact amount of THC in the cigarettes they administered, Atkinson said that doctors at dispensaries do not know the concentration of THC in the goods they distribute, which makes it difficult to prescribe. As the study shows, too much THC can actually increase pain.

“I do not think that you can take our results and apply them directly to what is available to the streets or in dispensaries,” Atkinson said.

Readers can contact Nisha Kurani at


Veteran's Recognition to Take Place

Congressman Bob Filner will speak at a Veteran's Recognition Ceremony on Nov. 9. It is sponsored by The Veteran's Association at UCSD, and will be at the Sequoia Room in the Muir College Commons.

The event will recognize and appreciate veterans' continuing contribution to higher education and their sacrifices made in defending their country.

At the ceremony, UC President Richard C. Atkinson will receive recognition for designating Veteran's Day, Nov. 10, an official UC holiday.

Rogers Davis, UCSD assistant vice chancellor for human resources, will also be recognized for initiating the authorization of the Veteran's Association at UCSD.

On Nov. 11 members of the UCSD Veteran's Association will participate in the San Diego Veteran's Day parade. UCSD colleagues, co-workers, family and friends are invited to join the first march with other San Diego veterans.

University of California Calls First-Ever 'Lygus Summit'

UC scientists will forge alliances against a pest known as the Lygus bug, the eating habits of which have destroyed a wide variety of crops, including cotton, seed alfalfa, strawberries, beans and tree fruit.

The bugs feed in large groups under certain field conditions that cause farmers to suffer sudden losses due to actions or conditions out of their control.

At the Nov. 9 summit in Visalia, scientists representing various crops will talk to panelists. Scientists will focus on the future management of the Lygus bug and make suggestions for agriculturists to handle infestations of the destructive insect.

Student Employees May See Wage Increase

A proposal is being made to increase the salaries of students holding positions classified as Assistant II-IV by 2 percent. The only exception to the increase is the Assistant I classification, which will remain at the state minimum wage of $5.75 per hour.

These classifications are ""by agreement"" with the university, meaning workers' wages do not undergo immediate or automatic rate changes unless an increase is required to meet the established minimum for the Assistant classification.

The tentative effective date for the proposed rate increases would be retroactive to Oct. 1, 2000 for student employees paid monthly or biweekly. Career Services welcomes comments on the proposals.

UCSD to Hold Fourth Annual Community Outreach Fair

UCSD will have its fourth annual community outreach fair on Nov. 16 at Southwestern College.

Representatives from UCSD will staff information booths, interactive displays and workshops focusing on student admissions, educational opportunities, university events and resources available to students, employment and business contracting. There will also be entertainment, refreshments and door prizes.

CALPIRG to Host ""Clean Air Car Show""

CALPIRG is hosting a ""Clean Air Car Show"" on Thursday to showcase some of the top zero-emission vehicle technologies on the market today and encourage students to contact Gov. Davis in support of the Zero Emission Vehicle Program.

The California's Zero Emission Vehicle mandate requires 10 percent of new cars sold by 2003 to be zero- and low-emission. Davis will make a final decision in a month, and the auto and oil industries are lobbying heavily for Davis to veto the mandate.

The ""Clean Air Car Show"" will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the west side of the Career Services Center.

Apr. 5, 2010

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Athletes Plea for Student Referendum Funds

Students and faculty of the Campus Life Referendum Committee held their fourth meeting in a series to discuss the proposal of a new campus legislation that could cost each student over $230 a year.

Student athletes filled the meeting on Monday to show support for the referendum. The proposed referendum will increase funds for the UCSD athletic programs and other student organizations and facilities.

Members from track and field, women's volleyball, baseball and softball teams addressed the committee about their need for support in funds.

""The increased funds will not be to expand the athletic programs, but to merely maintain the programs at the current size,"" said track and field athlete Matt Deford. ""The athletic program is a representative of the school as a whole.""

Baseball team representative Chad Addison warned those in attendance of the dismal future of UCSD sports without the necessary funds.

""Without this referendum, we will have to cut the athletic programs from 23 to 21 or 19,"" Addison said. ""This will give an unequal experience to the incoming freshmen.""

According to Addison, the referendum benefits all students as well as those affiliated with Division II athletics.

""When I work out in RIMAC, I see all students, not just athletes,"" Addison said. ""RIMAC facilities will be improved, as well as more funds for intramural sports.""

Student athletes also highlighted the recent advance to the NCAA Division II status. Senior volleyball player Leslie Penalie cited increasing school spirit as a reason for the legislation.

""Eighty percent of the students voted to move this school into Division II,"" Punelli said. ""This referendum is needed to bring national championships to UCSD.""

Along with the proposed funds for the athletics department, the proposed referendum will increase funds for the Women's Center, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Office, Cross Cultural Center, the sixth and seventh colleges, various student government groups and organizations, university events, and study lounges.

Funds would be allotted to further expand the Price Center to counteract the school's strong undergraduate growth.

The Grove Cafe is also set to bring in new seating through this referendum.

If passed, the proposed referendum would raise the costs of student fees by $67.96 per quarter., If the referendum is not passed, all student programs will be forced to take cuts in their budget.

The Campus Life Referendum Committee is currently working to hash out the logistics of the referendum itself. A.S. representative Lana Kreidie spoke to help the committee in drafting its final referendum. Kreidie urged the committee to ""think critically when transitioning from the planning of the referendum to the implementation.""

Kreidie emphasized the importance of the study lounges and new places where students and faculty can work side-by-side.

Splinter debates were triggered during the public input period. A.S. Vice President External Eugene Mahmoud addressed the group, saying that the UC Board of Regents should increase its economic support for student affairs.

Mahmoud told the committee that students were meeting on Wednesday and Thursday at the regents meeting at UCLA to ask for an increase of student funds from the present $6 million to $30 million. These amounts would be divided equally among the respective UC schools.

Assuming the committee comes to an agreement on the legislation, the UCSD referendum will be put to an all-campus vote during Winter 2001.

J-Board Dismisses Election Grievances

Before results could be announced at the A.S. election at Round Table Pizza on April 9, the election committee had to address a number of grievances filed against various slates.

Flood Wreaks Havoc at Tioga Hall

After days of pounding rain in last week's winter storms, UCSD is finally dry, with the exception of Tioga Hall.

Last Thursday a small flood occurred on the ground floor of Muir college's Tioga Hall. Water quickly spread throughout the south side of the building in the early hours of the morning, prompting 17 residents to seek higher ground.

Susan Rindlaub, a Muir freshman, awoke just after 8 a.m. only to find an inch and a half of water on the floor of her room.

""I jumped out of bed in my socks and [the water] splashed up all around me,"" Rindlaub said. ""My stuff was floating in my room.""

The source of the water was a leaky drainpipe that was supposed to divert precipitation from the roof of the 11- story residence hall to the ground floor. However, a cap that was supposed to have sealed the pipe came loose, causing gallons of rainwater to pour into the common room between two adjoining suites.

Campus officials became aware of the problem just after 8 a.m. and immediately advised affected residents to exit the building. Since then, workers have tried to dry the carpets using powerful fans.

However, soggy carpets, a musty odor and the constant noise of electric fans forced several of the residents to seek temporary living quarters elsewhere.

Consequently, the Muir Residential Life office offered several vacant rooms on the eighth floor to students wishing to relocate temporarily until conditions become once again suitable for living.

""My parents got me a hotel room,"" Rindlaub said. ""I thought that was a better offer.""

Others were not so fortunate.

John Lobato, a first-year Muir resident, returned to his dorm after the holiday weekend to find his flooded room still in bad shape.

""Over the weekend it smelled like somebody pissed all over the floor,"" Lobato said. ""Right now it's smelling better. We're getting used to the smell.""

At least two affected residents have become frustrated with the Muir Residential Life office's handling of the flood.

Rindlaub claims that campus officials waited more than 14 hours to discuss important matters, such as compensation and relocation, with affected students.

""The whole first day they didn't even come talk to us,"" Rindlaub said. ""Nobody came to tell us we would get reimbursed or that we could have a room, or anything.""

Still others, such as Lobato, praised the custodians for their efforts in the clean-up process.

""Janitorial services tried their best to take care of this, but the administration's response has been less than overwhelming,"" Lobato said.

Because the flood was not the fault of any of the residents, the Muir Residential Life office will work hard to compensate students for damages incurred. This includes replacing ruined textbooks, soiled garments and possibly damaged computers.

Additionally, drain pipes throughout Muir College were inspected by maintenance workers in Tioga and Tenaya Hall so that further rain does not pose similar problems in the future.

“South Park” Censorship

Why Give Up Now, After All That?

Comedy Central censored the April 21 episode of “South Park” after a radical Muslim group threatened to kill show producers Trey Parker and Matt Stone for insulting Muhammad in the previous episode.

The censoring of references to the Muslim prophet has sparked a nationwide discussion centered around religious respect and free speech. What’s most surprising, though, is that nothing like this has gone down before in the show’s 13-year history.

When it premiered in 1997, “South Park” instantly became the show that went too far. Episode “200” wasn’t even the first time the “South Park” producers have featured Muhammad on their show. In 2001’s “Super Best Friends,” Muhammad made his debut as a turban-clad Arab next to the founders of other religions, including Krishna and Joseph Smith.

Wednesday’s episode took it even further — but bottling offensive humor never made anyone stop laughing. Censoring episode “201” in response to a threat is probably the most ironic thing Comedy Central could have done. Looks like network officials didn’t get the signature “South Park” hint: Free speech will always out-shout fear and intimidation.

—Arik Burakovsky

Staff Writer

Overreaction Is a Slippery Slope

South Park” creators Stone and Parker haven always, rather successfully, aimed to outrage a sizable portion of the population with every episode. Followers of Islam couldn’t really have expected the show’s characters to spare them — especially since this is not Muhammad’s first guest appearance on “South Park.”

Similarly, Buddha and Jesus have run the “South Park” gauntlet and emerged uncensored. Islamic group Muslim Revolution’s overreaction to Muhammad’s appearance in the newer installments of the satire could be expected, but producers should have taken the high road; that’s precisely the kind of controversial content that’s allowed their show to become so popular. What’s most disturbing is not the religious upset but Comedy Central’s willingness to bow to lukewarm threats posted online.

Stone and Parker’s “everyone gets theirs” concept hinges on the demoralization of various groups in a humorous manner; if more groups continue to demand special treatment, “South Park” won’t be the only show to sacrifice its anything-goes autonomy to a few pissed-off viewers.

—Neda Salamat

Senior Staff Writer

This Time, They Went Too Far

As a borderline obsessive “South Park” fan, I can recognize when creators Stone and Parker have pushed the boundaries past their best interests.

The dynamic duo have forged their way as two stoner geniuses who bulge the envelope like nobody’s business — but neither can continue happily offending old ladies and religious institutions with flamethrowers like these pointed their direction.

After episode “200,” CNN aired an interview with Yunus Muhammad, a member of Islamic fundamentalist group Revolution Muslim, who called upon all Muslims to “terrorize” Parker and Stone. Even though the interviewee claimed there was a distinction between “terrorize” and “kill,” Comedy Central was wise not to ignore that warning — and not only because their creative powerhouse was threatened. There comes a point at which comedy has to take a backseat to cultural sensitivity, and that point has officially been reached.

On April 23, after Revolution Muslim posters declared they “knew where to find” the producers, Comedy Central asked the NYPD to step up security at their central office in New York.

When the censored version of episode “201” aired, many fans were upset — and they became livid when Comedy Central refused to post the uncensored version online. However, while there are few things more annoying than an episode’s wrap-up speech being replaced with a four-minute bleep, Comedy Central did have the bigger picture in mind: prioritizing the show’s future (not to mention the lives of its creators) over the First Amendment rights of a single episode.

—Cheryl Hori

Associate Opinion Editor

UC to Pay $22.5 Million in Billing Fraud Settlement

The University of California agreed this week to pay $22.5 million in response to an audit by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General. The settlement effectively closed suits of two alleged False Claims Act violations brought against the university in 1996 and 1999 in Federal District Courts in San Francisco and Sacramento.

The suits alleged fraudulent billing procedures, claiming that the five UC medical school hospitals used incorrect coding procedures. Government-funded programs such as Medicare and Medi-Cal were allegedly billed incorrectly for procedures done by residents instead of teaching physicians.

John Lundberg, general deputy counsel for the UC Board of Regents, said there was no fraud.

""There were certainly no damages, fines or penalties,"" Lundberg said.

The False Claims Act enables plaintiffs in a lawsuit to receive at least 15 percent of the recovered amount if the case is settled. In this situation, there was no payment from the university to the individuals who filed the suit.

In fact, Lundberg said that the 1996 San Francisco case will be dismissed entirely, being ""devoid of facts.""

The 1999 Sacramento case against UC Davis' medical facility will also be dismissed, except for one claim charging the institution with falsely charging California's government-funded health care provider, Medi-Cal. It is unknown whether the plaintiffs are receiving any of the compensation the government derived from the settlement.

The Office of General Counsel stated that the University of California ""came out rather well"" in this settlement, due to its ""high degree of compliance to begin with.""

In an audit including 500 patient charts, 7,000 entries, technical vocabulary and specialized billing codes, the charges centered around ""up-coding,"" or billing in such a way that inappropriately assesses the complexity of the services rendered, resulting in the care provider being overcharged for the procedures. Lundberg said the institutions were down-coding as much as they were up-coding, that the occurrence of both were both minimal, and that the hospital practices were close to accurate.

The Physicians at Teaching Hospitals initiative was started by the Office of the Inspector General to evaluate the billing practices of over 40 hospitals across the nation.

In 1995, as a result of the same audit, the University of Pennsylvania paid $30 million to the federal government for the violations of one hospital.

Public universities have also been hit. The University of Texas San Antonio paid a $17 million settlement, again for only one hospital.

The UCSD School of Medicine spent $3.5 million during the course of the investigation, according to sources within the medical school.

The UC system spent approximately $15 million in professional fees during the course of the audit.

The motivation for this settlement was economic, as running out the litigation would have cost millions more than the $22.5 million paid as a result of the settlement.

According to Lundberg, the real savings was time. Attempting to settle the matter in court would have been ""a long, protracted litigation,"" he said.

Following the audit, the UC schools have implemented compliance plans that call for specialized officers on each campus, a committee to deal with potential violations, and education programs designed to increase awareness of proper accounting procedures. This increase in oversight aims to bring the hospitals into further compliance with federal regulations.

Lundberg cited the clearer regulations put in place in 1996 as enabling the university to implement effective plans for financial accountability.


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