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Metro Detroit Continues to be a Focus of Health Care Fraud Prosecutions

On September 1, 2011, the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the FBI and the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) jointly announced that eighteen individuals have been charged in the Eastern District of Michigan for their participation in a series of separate Medicare fraud schemes involving home health and psychotherapy services.

According to the court documents, the schemes allegedly involved a total of more than $28 million in fraudulent claims submitted to Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary and/or never provided.

Fourteen individuals are charged in one indictment with conspiracy to commit health care fraud for their roles in a $14 million scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting fraudulent claims for home health care services. The defendants include three physicians, four clinic owners and managers, two clinic employees, one nurse, and four physical therapists and physical therapy assistants. As alleged, the conspiracy was operated out of multiple home health agencies located in Livonia.

In a separate complaint, a physician and two other individuals are charged with health care fraud and the submission of false claims in connection with an approximately $11.5 million scheme to defraud the Medicare program. The scheme allegedly involved false billings for individual and group psychotherapy services at two clinics located in Detroit. According to court documents, the defendants billed Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary and/or never provided.

In another indictment, the owner of a medical clinic located in Southfield was charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud and identity theft for a scheme allegedly involving $2.9 million in fraudulent billings to Medicare. The clinic owner is alleged to have used the identities of Medicare providers and beneficiaries to bill for psychotherapy services that were medically unnecessary and never performed.

Including these charges, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in Detroit have charged a total of 138 individuals in cases involving approximately $148 million in fraudulent billings to Medicare.

These newly announced indictments bear out the advice that we have been delivering to clients, namely that the health care enforcement landscape is evolving and thus it is even more imperative to ensure that providers take pro-active steps to mitigate the likelihood that they will become subjects of the government’s more robust initiatives to prevent health care fraud.

For more information regarding healthcare litigation and how to avoid becoming a government target, please contact Robert S. Iwrey, Esq. or Alan G. Gilchrist, Esq., for more information regarding healthcare fraud and abuse and how to properly structure business ventures, please contact Adrienne Dresevic, Esq., Carey F. Kalmowitz, Esq. or Esq., and for information regarding healthcare compliance, please contact Abby Pendleton, Esq. at (212) 734-0128 or at (248) 996-8510 or visit the HLP website

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