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Archive for the ‘Medicaid Fraud’ Category

Most Wanted Healthcare Fugitive List

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

And cue… “Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health & Human Services launched a Most Wanted Fugitives List for those criminals wanted by authorities on charges of healthcare fraud and abuse. This most wanted list is a tool to bring attention to the fugitives and their crimes against the healthcare system.

The list on the OIG website includes photos, profiles, and a list of crimes of each featured fugitive. The 10 individuals on the list have allegedly cost taxpayers more than $124 million in fraud. In all, OIG is seeking more than 170 fugitives on charges related to healthcare fraud and abuse.

Included on the Most Wanted Fugitives List:

1. Eduardo Moreno

Moreno allegedly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Medicare program, submitting false and fraudulent claims for durable medical equipment (DME) “and related health care benefits, items and services” that were medically unnecessary.

Moreno was a sneaky fraudster, using a “straw owner” and other methods to hide the money and property he obtained. (A straw owner is an individual who maintains the appearance of owning property in order to disguise the identity of the real owner.)

2. Leonard Nwafor

Nwafor billed Medicare for $1.1 million and collected $525,000 in fraudulent claims for such durable medical equipment (DME) as motorized wheelchairs, scooters, and hospital beds for beneficiaries. This investigation was led by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, including OIG investigators, which was created to identify and prosecute fraudulent DME companies and laboratories in the Greater Los Angeles area.

The website also provides you with the opportunity to report any of the fugitives or any other individuals believed to have committed healthcare fraud. The site also includes a toll free number.

Take a look at the fugitives and spread the word! These are the individuals causing healthcare costs to increase and benefits to decrease.

Fighting Healthcare Fraud

Friday, November 19th, 2010

All puns aside, the government is really turning up the HEAT on healthcare fraud. HEAT (Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team) was established in May 2009 to crack down and prevent fraud, waste and abuse in a healthcare system that loses an estimated $60 to $80 billion per year to fraudsters and the “ethically challenged.”

HEAT compliments the joint DOJ-HHS Medicare Fraud Strike Force which is a multi-agency team of federal, state and local investigators designed to combat Medicare fraud using high-tech data analytic techniques and a focus on community policing. Strike Force teams are currently in Miami, Los Angeles, Detroit, Houston, Brooklyn, Tampa and Baton Rouge.

The HEAT task force is comprised of top-level law enforcement agents, prosecutors and staff from both the Department of Justice and the Department Health and Human Services.

How is HEAT weathering the storm? By all accounts, this new task force is living up to the hype. Thirty-six people in five different states have been arrested and 94 indicted following an investigation regarding a Medicare insurance scam totaling over $250 million. Investigators apprehended nurses, doctors and other health professionals in Miami, New York, Detroit, Houston and Baton Rouge.

Attorney General Eric Holder was quoted saying, “With [these] arrests, we’re putting would-be criminals on notice: Healthcare fraud is no longer a safe bet.”

What are the fraudsters doing these days? Well, according to reports, NOT getting away with healthcare fraud thanks to the new task force. The government is in hot pursuit of those that are bilking the system.
As an investigator, here are some sure fire tips to help spot fraud in a healthcare setting:

1. Make sure you have a system in process to collect diagnosis and procedure information.
2. Track diagnosis and procedures provided, even if just by volume.
3. By simply having the right information in a single source data base, we can begin to ask the data, “Where is the hanging fruit activity?” For example, how many procedures are done in one day by one provider? How long does a patient wait to be seen? How far apart are the actual treatments?
4. Finally, tracking the different types of healthcare fraud schemes is just as valuable. A common scheme in many countries is falsifying mental and emotional states of an individual as a ruse to steal assets which lead to misrepresenting identity to receive healthcare services.

Regardless, one thing for sure is that we can always depend on the creativity of the ethically challenged.

Healthcare Fraud Roundup

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

What are the fraudsters doing these days? Well, according to reports, NOT getting away with healthcare fraud. The government is in hot pursuit of those that are bilking the system.

Some recent arrests include:

A Michigan podiatrist was accused of filing more than $800,000 in fraudulent claims. The doctor billed insurance providers for surgical procedures performed after falsely diagnosing patients with foot infections.

A New York surgeon was charged with stealing $3.5 million from insurance companies. The Department of Health & Human Services also investigated his billing patterns and found he had allegedly billed for multiple hemorrhoidectomies, office visits and examinations on the same day for the same patient on multiple occasions.

A Chicago-area cardiologist was ordered to pay $20 million and sentenced to 5 years in prison for defrauding both private and public insurers. The whistle blower on the case was another physician who worked in the same office.

Two West Virginia internists were sentenced to one year and one day of prison time after admitting to their involvement in a pill mill scheme. The local pharmacy where the prescriptions were sent by the physicians sold more hydrocodone in 2006 than all but 21 retail pharmacies in the country.

A California pathologist was sentenced to 25 years in prison for prescription fraud. He wrote fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone in exchange for cash. In some cases the prescriptions were for minors under the age of 21.

In Miami a massage clinic owner was convicted of Medicare fraud. The owner was charged with submitting false claims for physical therapy services that were never given and occupational therapy services that Medicare does not cover.

Healthcare fraud is prevalent, but we’re finding ways to stop the bad guys.

Schemes to defraud the health system

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

We all know that healthcare fraud is a growing concern. Private (e.g. Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna etc.) and public insurers (e.g. the government – Medicare and Medicaid) are both susceptible to fraud with the latter receiving the biggest hit. We know that fraudsters steal money – but how do they do it? In an article released by the United States General Accounting Office (GAO) they highlight some of the major and most prominent healthcare fraud schemes.

Healthcare Fraud Examples

1. Rent-a-Patient Scheme
In this scheme organizations pay for—or “rent”—individuals to go to clinics for unnecessary diagnostic tests and cursory examinations. The scary thing is that licensed physicians sometimes participate in the rent-a-patient scheme. Case and point: Robert Bourseau, 75, was sentenced to 37 months in prison and ordered to pay $4.1 million in restitution for his role in a scheme to defraud Medicare and Medi-Cal. He pleaded guilty in June to paying a recruiter to deliver homeless patients to his hospital for unnecessary medical services.

2. Pill Mill Scheme
In this scheme, separate health care individuals and entities (usually including a pharmacy) collude to generate a flood of fraudulent claims that Medicaid pays. After a prescription is filled, the beneficiary sells the medication to pill buyers on the street who then sell the drugs back to the pharmacy. Example: Rick Kloxin, pharmacist in charge of Hogan’s Pharmacy in Lyons, Kans., was found guilty in an internet pill mill scheme. Kloxin pled no contest and was found guilty of 14 misdemeanor counts of violating Kansas Pharmacy laws.

3. Drop Box Scheme
This scheme uses a private mailbox facility as the fraudulent health care entity’s address, with the entity’s “suite” number actually being its mailbox number. The fraudulent health care entity then uses the address to submit fraudulent Medicare, Medicaid, and other insurance claims and to receive insurance checks.

4. Third-Party Billing Scheme
The third-party billing scheme revolves around a third-party biller—who may or may not be part of the scheme—who prepares and remits claims to Medicare or Medicaid (electronically or by paper) for health care providers. It is possible, however, for a third-party biller to defraud Medicare, Medicaid, and others by adding claims without the providers’ knowledge and keeping the remittances or by allowing fraudulent claims to be billed to Medicare or Medicaid through its service. Example: Recently, in Miami, Ihosvany Marquez and several alleged conspirators were indicted on charges of having filed $55 million in phony Medicare claims for HIV, AIDS, cancer, pain and varicose vein treatments.

Healthcare Fraud in International Markets

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Healthcare fraud is everywhere – even in countries that have government run programs. Below are some examples:

Healthcare fraud knows no boundaries. The U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs are equivalent to many government-sponsored programs in other countries. Regardless of country, the existence and roles of players within the healthcare continuum are the same. All healthcare systems have patients, providers, TPAs (third-party administrators) that process reimbursements to third parties, plan sponsors (usually government programs or private-pay activities) and support vendors.

Examples of international healthcare fraud are plentiful. In France, a psychiatric nursing home took advantage of patients to obtain their property. In 2004, a newspaper in South Africa reported “a man who posed as a homeopathic doctor was this week sentenced to 38 years in jail – the stiffest term ever imposed by a South African court on a person stealing from medical aids.” An Australian psychiatrist claimed more than $1 million by writing fake referrals of patients to himself; he also charged for the time spent having intimate relations with patients.

In Japan, as in the United States, there are examples of hospitals incarcerating patients, falsifying records and inflating numbers of doctors and nurses in facilities for profit. A U.K. medical researcher mislead his peers and the public by using his own urine sample for 12 research subjects. Switzerland, know for its watches, had providers sanctioned for billing 30-hour days.

Excerpt from Healthcare Fraud: Auditing & Detection Guide by Rebecca Busch

A Government bill to help reduce healthcare fraud? Finally.

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Healthcare fraud is a $60 billion industry. Fraud “rings” are popping up all over the country mainly because stealing from healthcare providers, patients and government run health programs is safer and easier than being a drug dealer. How can we deter criminals from stealing money from our already troubled healthcare system? Well, if the House of Representatives has anything to do with it, the proposed IMPROVE (Improving Medicare and Medicaid Policy for Reimbursements through Oversight and Efficiency) Act will hopefully provide enough barriers that criminals will find drug dealing/other crimes more lucrative.

The bipartisan bill would end the common practice of mailing reimbursement checks to post office boxes. However, we first should all be asking a very important question. Who thought it was responsible to send reimbursement checks to post office boxes in the first place? What reputable healthcare provider doesn’t have a permanent address where to send checks?

The Act will mandate that all government sponsored health programs pay healthcare providers and suppliers by using direct deposit. This certainly seems to be a step in the right direction and into the 21st century. Direct deposits will eliminate an easy way for criminals to get their hands on reimbursement checks, save the government money on stamps, envelopes, paper check etc., and don’t forget about the environment.

Congress, please say, “Yes,” to healthcare reform.

Insurance companies recover substantial amounts from healthcare fraud investigations

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

It was announced yesterday that Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans recovered close to $350 million thanks to a very efficient 2008 anti-fraud investigation. The total money recovered added up to a 43% increase from the previous year. Fraud activities included false claims, improper billing practices and non-covered procedures.

WellPoint – an independent licensee of Blue Cross and Blue Shield – also announced that they recovered $75 million due to waste, fraud and abuse in their system. According to their estimates, for every $1 spent on investigating fraud the company saves or recovers $11.

Read full article.

If insurance companies can find ways to combat waste, fraud and abuse in their systems, Medicare and Medicaid need to find more productive methods. An estimated $68 billion every year – or 3% – of all healthcare expenditures is stolen. The government could insurance millions with that “extra” money.