Articles Tagged with attorney for Medicare fraud whistleblower

daan-stevens-282446-copy-300x191The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced August 18 that the owner and operator of five home health agencies located in the Houston area, Godwin Oriakhi, 61, was sentenced to 480 months in prison for conspiring to defraud Medicare and the Texas’ Medicaid programs: Home and Community-Based Service (HCBS) and Primary Home Care (PHC), which are known as provider attendant services (PAS). The authorities found Oriakhi defrauded Medicare and the Medicaid programs for more than $17 million, making this the largest PAS fraud case in all of Texas’ history.

More on Oriakhi’s Fraud

Oriakhi pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit health fraud and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments in March 2017. This came after Oriakhi admitted that he and his daughter, a co-defendant in the case, and other members of his family obtained patients for his home health agencies through illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters, his office employees, and physicians. His five facilities receive hundreds of patient referrals this way.

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Based on documents from a qui tam lawsuit filed against numerous health insurance companies, it is clear that the U.S. Department of Justice is looking into allegations that major health insurers in the U.S. are overcharging Medicare. These insurers include UnitedHealth Group Inc., Health Net Inc., Aetna Inc., and Bravo Health Inc., which is part of Cigna Corp. You may recognize these as some of the largest insurance providers in the country. The U.S. has agreed to join the qui tam suit against UnitedHealth and declined to intervene in cases against the other insurers. However, the government has stated it will continue its investigation into the allegations against these other insurers separately.

The Beginning of this Qui Tam Action

The qui tam action based on the False Claims Act was filed by Benjamin Poehling in 2011. Poehling was previously an executive at UnitedHealth and alleges that major health insurers overstate how sick Medicare patients are to increase reimbursements by millions of dollars. Through the program known as risk adjustment or risk scoring, healthcare providers would state that numerous Medicare patients under Part C and Part C programs were treated for conditions they did not have or had, yet were not treated for – also known as upcoding. These particularly costly conditions that were coded increased a provider’s risk score and in turn, raised reimbursements from the government.

Is Medicare fraud really that bhealthcashig of a problem?  After all, doesn’t fraud exist in almost every sector of the economy?  Why focus so much energy on one issue?  As recently filed charges in one case show, Medicare fraud is an enormous problem that costs our government billions of dollars every year.  Stealing from the government is, in essence, stealing from every single taxpayer.  Medicare fraud diverts money from those who truly need and deserve health care services and puts the money in the pockets of wrongdoers.  At the same time, there is also very specific, personal harm to patients whose providers are involved in fraudulent schemes, patients whose health is put in jeopardy because a provider puts profit over care.

DOJ Announces Allegations of Fraudulent Medicare Billing in Excess of $1 Billion

Late last month, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell publicly announced the unsealing of charges in what she called “the largest single criminal health care fraud case ever brought against individuals by the Department of Justice.”  The case involves allegations of fraudulent billing that total over $1 billion.  The allegations are focused on a group in South Florida, a region particularly hard hit by Medicare fraud.