Florida Audiologist Sentenced to Nearly Eight Years in Prison for Medicare Fraud
Medicare is the federal program that provides healthcare insurance coverage for individuals over the age of 65 and younger individuals who are facing certain diseases. When a Medicare patient receives a medical procedure, the doctor who performed that procedure sends a bill to the government to receive payment. This process can be exploited by a medical providers, which can be doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, or long-term care facilities. When Medicare is exploited for one’s financial gain, the offender has committed Medicare fraud. This is a federal crime.
Recently, an audiologist from Lakeland, Florida was sentenced to seven years and 10 months in federal prison for her role in a multi-million dollar Medicare fraud operation. The Tampa federal court found that the audiologist, Terri L. Schneider, was part of a group of physicians who submitted more than $12 million worth of fraudulent Medicare claims to the government from 2010 to 2014. The group used forged documentation to bill Medicare for procedures that had never actually been rendered. Others involved in the operation also paid illegal kickbacks for access to Medicare patients’ information to be used to bill Medicare.
When an individual or group commits Medicare fraud, hardworking taxpayers and Medicare recipients are the ones who lose. However, many innocent physicians are accused of committing Medicare fraud every year. If you or your company have been accused of committing Medicare fraud, work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend your case.
Penalties for Medicare Fraud
Because Medicare is a federal program, Medicare fraud is a federal offense. Penalties that individuals accused of Medicare fraud can face include the following:
- Restitution, which is the repayment of the money illegally gained through Medicare fraud;
- Fines that can range from $10,000 to $500,000, depending on the offender’s position within his or her company;
- Jail time; and
- Loss of one’s medical license.
It is important to remember that Medicare fraud is not the same thing as Medicare abuse. Medicare fraud is defined as an individual intentionally using another’s Medicare information to seek free medical treatment, a company using false information to convince an individual to sign up for a Medicare plan, or a healthcare provider billing Medicare for procedures that were never actually performed or a medical supplier billing Medicare for medical equipment that it never actually delivered to the customer. Medicare abuse, on the other hand, refers to instances of healthcare providers billing Medicare for procedures that are not medically necessary. In cases like this, the procedures were performed and the money was used to pay for them, but the procedures did not have a curative purpose for the patient.
Work with a Miami Medicare Fraud Lawyer
If you have been accused of Medicare fraud, you need to work with a lawyer who can help you clear your name by defending your case in court. Contact our team of criminal defense lawyers at Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today to discuss your case with us during your initial legal consultation.