United Medical Center in Southeast Washington is the District’s only public hospital. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

The chief medical officer at the District’s public hospital, who this month accused the contractor running the facility of mismanagement and illegal overbilling of federal insurance programs, has been fired, his attorneys said Tuesday.

Julian Craig, the top doctor at United Medical Center in Southeast Washington and a past president of the Medical Society of D.C., received a letter during the weekend from hospital board Chairwoman LaRuby May saying that his contract won’t be renewed. As a result, his employment will end Dec. 18.

D.C. Council members, some of whom cited Craig’s testimony against Veritas of Washington as a key factor in their Nov. 7 vote not to extend its contract, said they were troubled by the hospital board’s action.

“This looks like a classic retaliation to me,” said council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), one of seven council members who voted to sever the city’s relationship with Veritas.

“You shouldn’t be fired for being a whistleblower,” said council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large). “Dr. Craig provided valuable testimony about the operations at UMC.”

Craig’s attorney, Debra S. Katz, said his firing is “absolutely chilling for whistleblowers” and that Craig is “considering his legal options.”

May declined to comment on Craig’s firing. A spokeswoman for Veritas referred questions to the hospital board.

Craig, a soft-spoken doctor of internal medicine who has overseen the hospital’s clinical care since the summer of 2015, became an unlikely central figure in the political battles over UMC earlier this month.

At a Nov. 3 hearing of the council’s health committee, Craig made an unheralded appearance to accuse Veritas of improperly cutting his hours and disregarding hospital programs designed to ensure patient safety. He also alleged that Veritas employee Luis Hernandez encouraged doctors to admit patients who did not need treatment in an effort to boost revenue.

Veritas owner Chrystie Boucrée has denied those allegations, saying in a letter to the chairwoman of the hospital board that they are part of a “remarkably self-serving and false narrative” designed to aid Craig in a legal dispute with hospital managers.

She said Veritas was not responsible for cuts to hospital personnel that Craig said had diminished the hospital’s safeguards for quality of care, and that an investigation by an “independent legal team” had cleared Hernandez of wrongdoing. Hospital officials have not responded to The Washington Post’s requests for records of that investigation.

UMC is owned by the District and governed by a board with 11 voting members. The mayor appoints six of the board’s members and picks its chairman.

The D.C. Council voted Nov. 7 not to extend the $300,000-per-month Veritas contract, citing incidents that included regulators’ closure of the obstetrics ward in August because of dangerous medical errors and the recent death of a nursing home patient who was left on the floor by his nurse after crying out for help. Council members said Craig’s testimony was also an important factor in their decision.

Although the Veritas contract ends Nov. 30, the hospital board voted unanimously this week to extend the firm’s contract for up to 60 more days while a new management company is found.