Articles Posted in Medicare Fraud

IMG_0004-300x200Nabil Fakih, a licensed pharmacist, Michigan Board of Pharmacy member, and owner of a Dearborn Heights drug store, was charged with healthcare and wire fraud and indicted by a grand jury. The Indictment accused Fakih of wrongfully taking millions of United States dollars from Medicare, Medicaid and Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), dating back to 2011.

According to the indictment, Fakih is accused of falsely submitting claims on behalf of Dial Drugs. He was reported to be overbilling Medicaid and Medicare by $569,670 while overcharging BCBS by $558,079.

Fakih and others billed insurance companies for prescription drugs such as the antipsychotic medication, clozapine, and the sedative alprazolam. Claims for these drugs were on behalf of people who had died prior to the claimed date of delivery. This is according to government allegations.

social-security-300x170We recently published a blog on the impending crisis concerning funding of Medicare and Social Security benefits. The numbers of inquiries on this were substantial so I am writing additional information on the problem.

One issue is that Congress appears reluctant to address the issue especially given the coming Presidential election and the obvious effect changes would have on the deficit budget if the present systems are maintained. Government officials that oversee the future of Medicare and Social Security have discovered troubling facts concerning the future of these essential programs. Medicare is likely to become insolvent by the year 2026, while the insolvency of Social Security is estimated for some time in 2035. No solutions have been proposed as of this date but concerns are increasing because any structural changes must be well planned and funded which will require consensus building and focus on details.

Medicare and Social Security are both factors of the United States financial support system that use government reserves in order to provide vital assistance to those in need, in particular, the sick and elderly.

big-pharma-300x196Jazz Pharma, Alexion, and Lundbeck were the subject of SOJ lawsuits asserting kickbacks and committing general violations of Medicare laws. The United States Department of Justice has decided to agree to a settlement of $122.6 million in total from these three alleged Medicare violators.

The drug companies were accused of offering remuneration in hopes of encouraging patients to purchase their medications. They would pay kickbacks, a form of negotiated bribery, to patients of Medicare and Civilian Health and Medical Program (ChampVA) under the guise of charitable organizations that subsidized the co-pays. This is not an uncommon practice, but it is one many law enforcement programs are attempting to discontinue.

The DOJ states that in this case, the companies violated the Federal False Claims Act. This act is a way of imposing liability onto anyone, be it a group or individual, that has been discovered interfering with government-funded programs such as in this case with Medicare. This is one of the government’s main tools in defending against fraudulent acts.

Medicare-fraud-300x200Rossana Ramirez, a once certified nursing assistant, was discovered to be helping run a business in West Miami-Dade that is responsible for $7 million in health care fraud. After pleading guilty Ramirez was stripped of her license permanently through an Emergency Suspension Order and is now serving time at a federal detention center with a release date of June 2022.

Rossana Ramirez was registered in the state corporation registration as the vice president of a company titled F&E Home Health Care. While Rossana Ramirez is currently taking the heat from the Florida Department of Health, her husband Evelio Ramirez Jr. is also involved as the president of F&E. He will soon be starting his sentence of three years and ten months in federal prison himself. Both husband and wife are 59 and will both serve their time. Their pleas of guiltily were fairly straightforward and show that this act of fraud is not very uncommon from what has already been seen from healthcare fraud schemes in South Florida.

F&E is accused of paying kickbacks, a form of negotiated bribery in which a commission of sorts is given in return for services rendered, to those who receive Medicare and Medicaid to become F&E patients. Additionally, some of these patients did not even require home healthcare and the services promised were not often necessary or even provided at times. F&E is also accused of paying recruiters of Medicare and Medicaid recipients to promote their health services for them.

pharmacy-fraud-300x199The pharmaceutical industry in Pasadena is much like the rest of the United States. There are certainly an influx of individuals who receive Medicare using these services for particular ailments and diseases that accompany being older than 65 years old. However, a local Pasadena pharmacy, Akhtamar Pharmacy, was abusing the Medicare funds provided for those particular individuals. Although the pharmacy owner did not act alone, she was able to steal $1.3 million dollars from the Medicare system.

Pasadena Pharmacy Owner Convicted for Medicare Fraud

Although the pharmaceutical industry is driven by a purpose to help those who need medication, it can also be a place for fraudulent acts to occur. With so much paperwork to be completed, many individuals find themselves taking advantage of the system by falsifying numbers or providing inaccurate invoices. Unfortunately, this was the case in a Pasadena pharmacy. A 39-year-old pharmacy owner, Tamar Tatarian, was convicted on one count of healthcare fraud and two counts of wire fraud at Akhtamar Pharmacy in Pasadena. It is believed that she committed the fraudulent acts which amounted to $1.3 million dollars in total.

j-300x198Steven M. Butcher, 39, owner of MedMax LLC, which provided marketing services for compounded medications, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez in Newark federal Court for conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and violate the Anti-Kickback Statute.

Butcher used his company, MedMax,  to convince people to obtain unneeded compound medications and then bill the costs to various private and federal healthcare insurance plans.  MedMax was a marketing company for compound medications.  Butcher also paid several kickbacks from 2014 to 2015 for many individuals to fraudulently bill a health care benefit program that primarily serviced military families, called TRICARE, for unnecessary compound medications.

Compounded pharmacies prepare personalized medications based on specific prescriptions that include instructions for exact strength and dosage.

1-1-300x198Upcoding In The ER Could Be Stealing U.S. Tax Dollars

It’s an old and shady practice that has been in the forefront of Medicare and Medicaid fraud for years. Upcoding can hit taxpayers hard and drive emergency room bills to the thousands.

What is Upcoding?

CHS-300x200A Revived Lawsuit Against Community Health Systems Is Moving Forward

The court system is reviving an $891 million securities fraud lawsuit against Community Health Systems. According to Modern Healthcare, the shareholder’s allegations of securities fraud deserve another look. A federal appeals court agrees the company may have intentionally inflated its financial outlook.

The Lawsuit

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Memorial Hermann Endoscopy and Surgery Center physicians agreed to pay more than $1.5 million to settle Medicare fraud allegations. Gurunath Thota Reddy, MD, and other surgery center physicians allegedly performed colonoscopies for 7.5 years that Medicare deemed “essentially worthless.” United Surgical Partners International operates the center, while the physicians are part of Houston-based Digestive & Liver Disease Consultants PA. Houston-based Memorial Hermann Health System is a minority owner.

A former nurse claimed center physicians were spending as little as two minutes on a colonoscopy, while not examining the entire colon. The nurse also claimed Dr. Reddy allegedly reused surgical gowns to save money. The nurse was fired the day after she brought the issues to the attention of USPI’s regional vice president. The practice’s lawyer Gene Besen disputed the timing and reason behind her dismissal.

Mr. Besen said in a statement the practice settled, “to avoid the cost of defending allegations and to continue to serve the community with the highest quality of care and standards as they have done for the last three decades.” Mr. Besen said the physicians have repeatedly denied the allegations.

The Macon-based Medical Center of Central Georgia, the second largest hospital in the state, will pay $20 million to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by billing Medicare for more expensive inpatient services instead of less costly outpatient or observation services.

The feds alleged that from 2004 to 2008 the hospital knowingly charged Medicare for medically unnecessary inpatient admissions when the care provided should have been billed as less costly outpatient or observation services.

Since January 2009, the U.S. Justice Department has recovered more than $24 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $15.3 billion of that from cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.