The Medicare fraud scandal is way out of control and has been for some time. It’s costing U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars a year. Meanwhile, politicians dawdle and quibble instead of working to fix a dangerously flawed system.
Here is a case in point: A Philadelphia foot doctor allegedly billed Medicare for office visits that occurred during a time period when she was out of the country! It’s not easy treating an ingrown toenail from the other side of the globe, but Aileen Gong, 55, of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, may disagree. She is charged with submitting at least $480,000 in phony claims to Medicare from 2009 through February 2014, for patient visits that never occurred and claims for procedures that she did not perform.
If convicted she could go away for the rest of her life and pay a fine of $3.5 million.
In other Medicare rip-offs:
- An Eldersbug, Maryland, company that operates a skilled nursing facility has agreed to pay $1.3 million to resolve charges of false claims submitted for rehabilitation therapy. Episcopal Ministries to the Aging Inc. allegedly sought inflated amounts of reimbursement based on unreasonable or unnecessary services dictated by financial considerations rather than patient needs.
- Rochester, New York, radiologist Thomas Stephenson, 71, has been charged with heath care fraud and if convicted faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. He is accused of falsely representing on multiple occasions that he had performed and interpreted two x-rays when in fact he had only performed and interpreted single x-ray images. The reimbursements total $183,279.30.
- A Detroit-area hematologist-oncologist has admitted that he gave unnecessary chemotherapy so he could fraudulently bill the Medicare program and private insurance companies. According to court records, the scheme enabled Farid Fata, 49, of Oakland Township, Michigan, to submit approximately $225 million in claims to Medicare over six years. He faces a maximum of 175 years in prison.
Maybe long prison sentences will deter this kind of deplorable activity in the future and save taxpayers some money.