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Doctor Found Not Guilty in Medicare Fraud Case

A doctor who was charged in connection with the Miami-Dade home health care agencies ABC Home Health Care and Florida Home Health Providers has been found not guilty. If convicted of Medicare fraud, the man could have been sentenced to 15 years in prison. More than 50 people have been convicted in connection with the home health care agencies, including patient recruiters, doctors, nurses and other medical field professionals, as well as the co-owners of the agencies, themselves.

From 2006 to 2009, the doctor referred 26 total patients to the two home health care agencies and recertified their plans when needed. For that, prosecutors said he was paid roughly $70,000 by Medicare and $60,000 in kickbacks by the owners of the agencies. The doctor countered that he had recommended the patients for home health care because they were elderly, infirm, and generally incapable of managing the multiple daily injections of insulin without skilled medical oversight. One of the co-owners of the agencies provided evidence against the doctor, claiming that he had accepted bribes in return for the patient referrals.

The co-owner who testified had previously pleaded guilty for her role in the fraud scheme. She is now cooperating with prosecutors in exchange for a sentence involving 2 ½ years in prison. In total, the two agencies garnered approximately $15 million from Medicare based on false claims.

While acknowledging that he did refer the patients, the doctor denied accepting any bribes and characterized the accusations of the agency owner as "lies." The physician defended his diagnoses as medically necessary and had one 90-year-old patient testify about the home health care determination.

Source: The Miami Herald, "Broward doctor acquitted of Medicare fraud in Miami federal court," by Jay Weaver, 7 March 2012

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