hi INDiA Copyright 2020
NEW YORK, NY — A couple of Indian American medical professionals in New York were among hundreds charged in a $1.3-billion healthcare billing scheme crackdown.
According to the US Justice Department, among the accused were occupational therapist Mayura Kanekar and cardiologist Dr. Sebhatu Gebrezgi.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a July 13 news release called the collective action the “largest health care fraud takedown operation in American history.”
“Too many trusted medical professionals like doctors, nurses, and pharmacists have chosen to violate their oaths and put greed ahead of their patients,” Sessions said.
“Amazingly, some have made their practices into multimillion-dollar criminal enterprises. They seem oblivious to the disastrous consequences of their greed. Their actions not only enrich themselves often at the expense of taxpayers but also feed addictions and cause addictions to start.”
A total of 412 people across 41 federal districts, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, are being charged in the crackdown, with nearly 300 healthcare providers bring suspended or banned from participating in federal healthcare programs.
Of those charged, over 120 defendants, including doctors, were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics.
The Justice Department said the people charged were illegally billing Medicare, Medicaid and the health insurance program that serves members of the armed forces, retired service members and their families.
The allegations include claims that those charged billed the programs for unnecessary drugs that were never purchased or never given to the patients.
“Healthcare fraud is not only a criminal act that costs billions of taxpayer dollars – it is an affront to all Americans who rely on our national healthcare programs for access to critical healthcare services and a violation of trust,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.