A federal judge sentenced a Michigan podiatrist to seven years in prison for orchestrating a scheme that fraudulently billed Medicare for nearly $2 million. He is also guilty of falsifying records and identity theft.
The doctor operated a practice specializing in on-site foot care for adult foster home residents. The charges were not for the doctor’s first offense – he was suspended for questionable billing practices and banned from Medicare funds while suspended. The doctor circumvented the suspension by creating a new company called Urban Health Care Group, PLLC, and convincing another doctor in good standing to do the Medicare billing. The accomplice also placed her name on all business documents related to the new company.
Making matters worse
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) detected the doctor’s scheme, and he was indicted. During his arraignment, the podiatrist further impeded the investigation by drafting false statements and signing at least one false signature sent to the HHS.
Does this sound familiar?
Medicare fraud and abuse can happen at any time and any place. Those who think they spotted a scam can contact their healthcare provider’s office to understand the billing better or identify an error. If their answers are unsatisfactory, concerned citizens who witness or suspect Medicare is the target of a fraudulent billing scheme can notify Medicare through its website. These illegal actions are federal crimes that can involve criminal charges similar to what the podiatrist was sentenced to and substantial fines. This is not a victimless crime — scammers are responsible for higher taxes and medical care costs.