Three People Charged For $109 Million Scheme to Defraud Medicare & HIPAA Violations

Attorney George F. Indest IIIBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

In October 2020, Massachusetts federal prosecutors charged three people for their alleged roles in a multi-million dollar plot to defraud Medicare. Two individuals allegedly collected patient data and sold it to the purported mastermind, who used it to submit $109 million in false claims.

The two individuals who allegedly obtained the patient information were both located in Florida, wouldn’t ya know. They were each charged with one count of receiving more than $1.6 million kickbacks in connection with a federal health care program. Prosecutors charged the third individual with criminal violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Fraudulently Collecting & Using Private Patient Information.

According to court documents, both individuals in Florida owned marketing companies that enlisted foreign call centers to contact Medicare beneficiaries. Using a prepared script, they allegedly asked the patients they called if they would be interested in receiving durable medical equipment (DME) such as knee braces or compression sleeves “at little to no cost.”

The call centers would then collect information, including the patient’s name, address, insurance number, Medicare number, and doctor’s name and address, prosecutors said. The information was then sold to the third individual, who filed fraudulent Medicare claims for DME that were never prescribed and not medically necessary.

According to court records, the alleged co-conspirators used the same patients’ information repeatedly through a different shell company each time. More than 1,000 of the claims were made under the names of deceased beneficiaries. Click here to view the criminal information in this case.

Read the DOJ’s press release on this case for additional information.

Also, you can read one of my prior blogs on a similar case in Florida.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late; Consult with a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Medicare Issues Now.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers and other health care providers in Medicare audits, ZPIC audits, MAC audits, and RAC audits throughout Florida and across the U.S. They also health care providers in qui tam or False Claims Act (whistleblower) litigation and in other complex medical litigation. They also represent DME suppliers, physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals, and other healthcare providers and institutions in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits, recovery actions, and termination from the Medicare or Medicaid programs, They represent health care providers in formal and informal administrative hearings, federal or state.

For more information please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620.

Sources:

Sinay, Reenat. “Feds Charge 3 In Alleged $109M Medicare Fraud Scheme.” Law360. (October 2, 2020). Web.

Szaniszlo, Marie. “Three charged in multi-million dollar fraud scheme.” Sentinel Enterprise. (October 2, 2020). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2021 The Health Law

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Three Charged For Roles in $109 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme, HIPAA Violations

Attorney George F. Indest IIIBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

In October 2020, Massachusetts federal prosecutors charged three people for their alleged roles in a multi-million dollar plot to defraud Medicare. Two individuals allegedly collected patient data and sold it to the purported mastermind, who used it to submit $109 million in false claims.

The two individuals who allegedly obtained the patient information were both located in Florida, wouldn’t ya know. They were each charged with one count of receiving more than $1.6 million kickbacks in connection with a federal health care program. Prosecutors charged the third individual with criminal violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Fraudulently Collecting & Using Patient Information.

According to court documents, both individuals in Florida owned marketing companies that enlisted foreign call centers to contact Medicare beneficiaries. Using a prepared script, they allegedly asked the patients they called if they would be interested in receiving durable medical equipment (DME) such as knee braces or compression sleeves “at little to no cost.”

The call centers would then collect information, including the patient’s name, address, insurance number, Medicare number, and doctor’s name and address, prosecutors said. The information was then sold to the third individual, who filed fraudulent Medicare claims for DME that were never prescribed and not medically necessary.

According to court records, the alleged co-conspirators used the same patients’ information repeatedly through a different shell company each time. More than 1,000 of the claims were made under the names of deceased beneficiaries. Click here to view the criminal information in this case.

Read the DOJ’s press release on this case for additional information.

Also, you can read one of my prior blogs on a similar case in Florida.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late; Consult with a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Medicare Issues Now.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers and other health care providers in Medicare audits, ZPIC audits, MAC audits, and RAC audits throughout Florida and across the U.S. They also health care providers in qui tam or False Claims Act (whistleblower) litigation and in other complex medical litigation. They also represent DME suppliers, physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals, and other healthcare providers and institutions in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits, recovery actions, and termination from the Medicare or Medicaid programs, They represent health care providers in formal and informal administrative hearings, federal or state.

For more information please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620.

Sources:

Sinay, Reenat. “Feds Charge 3 In Alleged $109M Medicare Fraud Scheme.” Law360. (October 2, 2020). Web.

Szaniszlo, Marie. “Three charged in multi-million dollar fraud scheme.” Sentinel Enterprise. (October 2, 2020). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2021 The Health Law

 

 

By |2021-02-24T11:01:27-05:00February 24th, 2021|Categories: Health Facilities Law Blog, In the News|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

New DOJ Memo Shifting Government Policy in False Claims Act Cases Should make Healthcare Providers Happy!

Headshot of attorney George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On January 29, 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released a new internal memorandum that we believe signals a backing-off of government support for False Claims Act cases. The memorandum sent by Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, references “vast reams” of government agency guidance explaining the government’s views and interpretation of various laws. It includes laws related to requirements for accurate billing of Medicare and Medicaid by healthcare providers.

The “Brand Memorandum.”

In the memo, Brand said the DOJ “may not use its enforcement authority to effectively convert agency guidance documents into binding rules.” The memo is a product of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ move in November 2017, to curtail “regulation by guidance.”

It states that it specifically applies to civil enforcement of laws, including the False Claims Act (FCA), that the Associate Attorney General oversees.

Click here to view the DOJ’s Brand Memorandum in full on our website.

Implications of the Brand Memorandum.

Brand’s memorandum stopped short of completely forbidding the use of agency guidance in support of DOJ cases. The memorandum indicates that, while violations of agency guidance can’t be used to prove violations of law, they can still be used “to help prove that the party had the requisite knowledge” of its legal obligations, Brand wrote.

FCA cases can be affected by many types of guidance. Medicare contractors provide guidance on billing when appropriate and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues guidance on illicit off-label promotion. Additionally, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issues guidance and bulletins related to kickbacks and improper physician referrals.

To learn more about the DOJ’s role in health care fraud and compliance, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Visit our website to find out how The Health Law Firm can assist you with Medicaid fraud defense, Medicare fraud defense and False Claims Act defense cases.

What Will the Long Term Effects Be?

We see these latest actions by the DOJ to announce a policy of allowing big corporations unbridled discretion to steal from the tax payers. We believe it signals a change to discouraging False Claims Act cases from being brought. It is difficult to see why DOJ is easing off of matters that help the prosecution of False Claims Act cases, especially those by individual relators (whistle blowers). Whistle blower or qui tam cases brought by hundreds of individual whistle blowers are now recovering billions of dollars each year in Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Why would anyone want to stifle such a successful program?

It is argued by DOJ that the DOJ’s budget is limited and U.S. Attorneys need to be freed up to go after serious crime, but that is exactly why the False Claims Act was passed in the first place. If the government doesn’t have the resources, personnel or, more importantly, the interest in pursuing those who files false claims and state form the tax payer, then private whistle blowers or relators are authorized to do this. All the government has to do is to decline to intervene in the case and then the relator can go ahead and pursue the case on its own, without costing the government anything. It was because of war profiteers’ treating the U.S. treasury as a piggy bank, to be looted anytime they felt like it, that caused the False Claims Act’s passage in the Civil War era.

There is also a big concern that if there is less guidance on such complex topics as how to properly document valid medical services and procedures delivered to patients, then how can busy doctors, health care professionals and health facilities hope to understand what is require of them. It is my understanding that such “guidance” is for just such a purpose, to guide those who are trying to comply.

Consult with a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Medicare and Medicaid Issues Now.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent health care providers in Medicare audits, ZPIC audits and RAC audits throughout Florida and across the U.S. They also represent physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers and institutions in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits, recovery actions and termination from the Medicare or Medicaid Program.

For more information please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.

Sources:

Overley, Jeff. “New DOJ Memo Will Make Waves In Fraud Cases.” Law360. (January 29, 2018). Web.

“New DOJ Memo Will Make Waves In Fraud Cases.” Institute for Legal Reform. (January 29, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Fraudulent billing defense attorney, fraudulent billing representation, Medicare fraud defense attorney, Medicaid fraud defense attorney, representation for health care fraud, representation for Medicare fraud, representation for Medicaid fraud, False Claims Act (FCA) attorney, FCA defense attorney, FCA representation, false filling representation, false billing defense attorney, health care fraud defense attorney, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) guidance representation, DOJ investigation representation, DOJ defense attorney, DOJ investigation defense attorney, OIG investigation representation, OIG defense attorney, health care professional defense attorney, health care professional representation, health care compliance representation, health care compliance attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

New DOJ Memo Shifting Government Policy in False Claims Act Cases Should make Healthcare Providers Happy!

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On January 29, 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released a new internal memorandum that we believe signals a backing-off of government support for False Claims Act cases. The memorandum sent by Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, references “vast reams” of government agency guidance explaining the government’s views and interpretation of various laws. It includes laws related to requirements for accurate billing of Medicare and Medicaid by healthcare providers.

The “Brand Memorandum.”

In the memo, Brand said the DOJ “may not use its enforcement authority to effectively convert agency guidance documents into binding rules.” The memo is a product of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ move in November 2017, to curtail “regulation by guidance.”

It states that it specifically applies to civil enforcement of laws, including the False Claims Act (FCA), that the Associate Attorney General oversees.

Click here to view the DOJ’s Brand Memorandum in full on our website.

Implications of the Brand Memorandum.

Brand’s memorandum stopped short of completely forbidding the use of agency guidance in support of DOJ cases. The memorandum indicates that, while violations of agency guidance can’t be used to prove violations of law, they can still be used “to help prove that the party had the requisite knowledge” of its legal obligations, Brand wrote.

FCA cases can be affected by many types of guidance. Medicare contractors provide guidance on billing when appropriate and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues guidance on illicit off-label promotion. Additionally, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issues guidance and bulletins related to kickbacks and improper physician referrals.

To learn more about the DOJ’s role in health care fraud and compliance, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Visit our website to find out how The Health Law Firm can assist you with Medicaid fraud defense, Medicare fraud defense and False Claims Act defense cases.

What Will the Long Term Effects Be?

We see these latest actions by the DOJ to announce a policy of allowing big corporations unbridled discretion to steal from the tax payers. We believe it signals a change to discouraging False Claims Act cases from being brought. It is difficult to see why DOJ is easing off of matters that help the prosecution of False Claims Act cases, especially those by individual relators (whistle blowers). Whistle blower or qui tam cases brought by hundreds of individual whistle blowers are now recovering billions of dollars each year in Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Why would anyone want to stifle such a successful program?

It is argued by DOJ that the DOJ’s budget is limited and U.S. Attorneys need to be freed up to go after serious crime, but that is exactly why the False Claims Act was passed in the first place. If the government doesn’t have the resources, personnel or, more importantly, the interest in pursuing those who files false claims and state form the tax payer, then private whistle blowers or relators are authorized to do this. All the government has to do is to decline to intervene in the case and then the relator can go ahead and pursue the case on its own, without costing the government anything. It was because of war profiteers’ treating the U.S. treasury as a piggy bank, to be looted anytime they felt like it, that caused the False Claims Act’s passage in the Civil War era.

There is also a big concern that if there is less guidance on such complex topics as how to properly document valid medical services and procedures delivered to patients, then how can busy doctors, health care professionals and health facilities hope to understand what is require of them. It is my understanding that such “guidance” is for just such a purpose, to guide those who are trying to comply.

Consult with a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Medicare and Medicaid Issues Now.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent health care providers in Medicare audits, ZPIC audits and RAC audits throughout Florida and across the U.S. They also represent physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers and institutions in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits, recovery actions and termination from the Medicare or Medicaid Program.

For more information please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.

Sources:

Overley, Jeff. “New DOJ Memo Will Make Waves In Fraud Cases.” Law360. (January 29, 2018). Web.

“New DOJ Memo Will Make Waves In Fraud Cases.” Institute for Legal Reform. (January 29, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Fraudulent billing defense attorney, fraudulent billing representation, Medicare fraud defense attorney, Medicaid fraud defense attorney, representation for health care fraud, representation for Medicare fraud, representation for Medicaid fraud, False Claims Act (FCA) attorney, FCA defense attorney, FCA representation, false filling representation, false billing defense attorney, health care fraud defense attorney, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) guidance representation, DOJ investigation representation, DOJ defense attorney, DOJ investigation defense attorney, OIG investigation representation, OIG defense attorney, health care professional defense attorney, health care professional representation, health care compliance representation, health care compliance attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Former Oral Surgeon Gets House Arrest for Defrauding Medicaid

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On July 14, 2016, a former oral surgeon in Oklahoma was sentenced to six months’ house arrest for fraudulently billing Medicaid for anesthesia services that were performed by unlicensed dental assistants. W. Scott Harrington, whose dental practice led to thousands of patients’ being tested for HIV and Hepatitis, pled guilty in April 2016 to money laundering and agreed to pay nearly $30,000 in restitution under an agreement with federal prosecutors. He was also sentenced to two years’ probation and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine within one month.

It is actually quite remarkable that he did not get any prison time, given the facts of the case.

Unsanitary Clinic Conditions Found.

In 2013, Harrington’s two Tulsa area clinics were shut down due to unsanitary conditions. State health officials urged about 7,000 of his current and former patients to get tested for diseases because of the conditions inside the clinic that included rusty equipment and reused needles.

Of the thousands of patients tested, one had contracted a disease, hepatitis C, at a Harrington clinic. Investigators say it was the nation’s first known transmission of hepatitis C between patients in a dental office.

Harrington surrendered his professional license in 2014 after more than 35 years in practice.

Click here to read more on this story.

The Money Laundering Charge.

The money laundering charge against Harrington was the first criminal case brought against him after his clinics were closed in March 2013. Several civil lawsuits were also filed by former patients.

In the money laundering case, prosecutors alleged Harrington deposited into his account more than $15,000 of Medicaid funds resulting from the fraudulent billing for anesthesia performed between January and June of 2012. Prosecutors also alleged that Harrington issued a $15,000 check from his account payable to W.S. Harrington LLC, which was another entity Harrington controlled for his personal benefit.

Harrington’s attorney sought a lighter sentence of probation and a fine, saying his client was a leader in his field and offered free dental services to patients who couldn’t afford to pay for them. However, prosecutors said in court records that Harrington behaved recklessly and chose to “place efficiency ahead of patient care” so he could quickly move from procedure to procedure. The prosecutor in the case, also argued that Harrington should not receive special treatment from his good deeds to the community done in the past.

U.S. District Chief Judge, Gregory K. Frizzell, opted for a lighter sentence, stating that none of Harrington’s patients suffered injury as a result of the unsupervised administration of anesthesia.

To learn about fraud, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

One thing that may have persuaded the judge was that the services were actually delivered, even if delivered by unqualified people. To me, though, it is unforgivable for a dentist or any healthcare professional in this day and age to be using rusty equipment and reusing needles. This does not seem to be a matter at all related to “efficiency,” just gross negligence. It’s like arguing that it’s okay to drive a car at 100 mph and drive on the sidewalks to get some place, because then you take less time and are more efficient. I believe the board of dentistry would see it that way, as well. And if you don’t hit and kill anyone while doing so, well then it’s just a minor thing.

To see the blog I wrote about the major source of patient injury and deaths today, click here.

Consult With An Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Dentists.

We routinely provide legal representation to dentists, dental hygienists and other health professionals being in licensure, administrative and criminal cases, negligence cases, civil cases or disciplinary cases involving other health professionals. We also represent professionals in defense of Medicare and Medicaid fraud allegations, actions for overpayments, False Claims Act (whistle blower) cases, and civil monetary penalty cases.

The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing dentists and dental hygienists and other health professionals in investigations and at Board of dentistry hearings and other legal matters. Call now or visit our website www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Juozapavicius, Justin. “EX-DENTIST GETS HOUSE ARREST FOR BILKING MEDICAID.” Associated Press. (July 15, 2016). Web.

“Ex Dentist Gets House Arrest for Bilking Medicaid.” The New York Times. (July 14, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Medicaid fraud defense lawyer, submitting false claims to the government, fraudulent billing defense attorney, billing Medicaid for services not rendered or unnecessary, unsanitary clinic conditions, legal representation for Medicaid fraud, Medicaid and Medicare fraud defense attorney, legal representation for dentists, professional license defense attorney, legal representation for suspended license, legal representation for licensure issues, The Health Law Firm

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2016 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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