Latest charges follow crackdown on health care fraud in the state
An Indianapolis dentist has been charged with Medicaid fraud and theft following accusations that she billed the federal government for procedures that were not performed, according to the Indianapolis Star. The accusations follow recent efforts by state prosecutors to crack down on Medicaid fraud, which has resulted in a number of investigations and arrests in recent months. Despite the crackdown, however, scrutiny has been placed on the state's Medicare fraud unit itself for some financial discrepancies.
Dentist faces charges
The dentist, who has 30 years of experience in the industry, faces one count of Medicaid fraud and four counts of theft. Prosecutors say that, based on interviews with a dozen of her patients, they believe she charged the federal government for over $261,000 in procedures that were never performed.
Those procedures include x-rays and tooth extractions that were either not performed or were not completed. The fraud was allegedly perpetrated between 2012 and 2013. The accusations of services not performed along with false billing are common in Medicaid fraud cases, according to the Palladium-Item.
Medicaid fraud crackdown
State prosecutors have been increasing their efforts recently against Medicaid fraud. Nine people who worked at an Anderson dental office, for example, were charged with fraud last April while a major community health center is under investigation by the state Attorney General's office for fraud.
Despite the efforts, however, scrutiny has been placed on Indiana's Medicaid fraud unit itself for financial and other discrepancies in its own conduct. An audit by the U.S. Office of Inspector General found that the fraud unit could not reconcile $4,900 in its budget. More worryingly, 77 percent of its cases were missing approvals by supervisors. While many of the issues highlighted by the audit have been resolved, as the Palladium-Item notes, the Medicaid fraud unit should be held to the same standards that it uses itself when investigating health care professionals for misconduct.
The mere accusation of health care fraud, let alone a conviction, can seriously damage a person's reputation and livelihood. A fraud conviction can result not only in fines and jail time, but a revocation of a person's professional license. Given that investigators and prosecutors are renewing their efforts to stamp out fraud, it is vital for anybody accused of Medicaid or Medicare fraud to contact a criminal defense attorney right away. An experienced attorney can lean on years of experience and expertise to help contain and minimize the damage caused by these serious criminal charges.