September 01, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Florida health care fraud prosecution results in lengthy prison sentence
Both Florida and Federal officials investigate insurance fraud schemes. The Department of Justice's Criminal Division may bring tax or health care fraud
charges in coordination with another federal agency such as the Medicare-Strike Task Force or Criminal Investigation unit of the IRS.
At the state level, the Florida Department of Financial Services handles suspected fraud referrals. Over the last year, for instance, there have been an increasing number of PIP (Personal Injury Protection) fraud cases brought by the state agency.
Sentence handed down in recent Miami health care fraud scheme
Federal statute makes it a crime to knowingly or willfully create a scheme to "defraud a health care benefit program." A fine and prison sentence of up to 10 years is possible with a conviction. When a scheme results in serious injury or the death of a patient, the prison sentence could increase to 20 years or life.
A recent federal prosecution detailed a scheme that ultimately involved 15 people who worked for a health care organization. Prosecutors alleged that the community mental health center stole money from Medicare and Medicaid.
At trial, the prosecution introduced evidence that a medical record supervisor altered documents to support false billing claims. One of the allegations was that billed therapy sessions involved patients watching movies or simply taking part in games or barbeques. It was also alleged that the supervisor was aware of illegal payments to assisted living facilities for patient referral information used to submit claims.
Following a federal trial, a jury found the woman guilty of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The former supervisor of medical records at the organization was sentenced to 10 years in prison, an additional three years of supervised release and must pay a large amount of restitution for her part.
Necessity of legal representation as fraud prosecutions increase
The number of these health care fraud prosecutions has increased since 2007 when Health and Human Services formed a Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Approximately, 1,500 prosecutions have resulted.
generally require that the violation was willful. In the health care context, as in all criminal cases, the defense depends upon the facts of the case and the applicable law. In the case described above, one defense might be that an individual was unaware of fraudulent billing practices and another might be that the billing practices were erroneous, but not fraudulent. Other possible defenses may relate to the admissibility of evidence or credibility of testimony.
Any allegation of health care fraud is serious. If convicted, penalties can include a prison sentence, fines and restitution. Detailed reviews of paperwork and charges against multiple people in an organization are common in these types of cases. The complexities of these cases require a skilled criminal defense attorney to defend you against such charges.
Article provided by Rothman & Associates, P.A.
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