by Brian Mahany
Health care fraud costs the government and taxpayers billions of dollars. It is anything but a victimless crime. Fraud means higher insurance premiums causing some people to go without medical care. Because the federal government funds much of health care, taxes also go up when Medicare money is used to pay false claims. Earlier this week, a federal jury convicted one fraudster of submitting over $2 million in false claims to Medicare.
On February 2nd, the jury convicted Detroit area resident Tariq Mahmud of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and six counts of actual health care fraud. He faces up to 70 years in prison when sentenced later this year.
Prosecutors say that Mahmud controlled a company called Comprehensive Rehab Services. His company supposedly provided physical and occupational therapy to patients near Dearborn, Michigan. Instead, prosecutors say that Mahmud submitted phony claims to Medicare. In many instances, Medicare was billed for services that the patient never received. At trial, the evidence revealed that many of the physical therapists never even met the patients and that patients were sometimes given drugs or cash kickbacks for use of their names.
If you think cases like this are rare, unfortunately you are wrong. They occur everyday across the United States. Health care fraud is so rampant that the federal government created a special health care task force called HEAT (Health Care Fraud and Prevention Action Team). Since its inception just 5 years ago, the team has charged 1160 people in just 9 districts with bilking the government out of almost $3 billion in tax dollars.
HEAT is a joint task force made up of investigators from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice. Assistance on criminal prosecutions is often provided by the FBI. Whereas HEAT tries to stop fraud by prosecuting offenders, many more offenders are stopped by false claim cases filed by whistleblowers.
Prosecutors can’t stop and arrest every person involved in health care fraud but there are things that ordinary citizens can do. Many healthcare fraud cases are uncovered by concerned health care providers. No one likes to see fraud and waste and often the people closest to the fraud become whistleblowers. Patients, billing clerks, medical assistants and sometimes even doctors are the ones who first alert authorities to these scams.
In addition to the satisfaction that comes from doing the right thing, whistleblowers are entitled to a percentage of the money recovered by the government if their tip leads to a successful false claims action. The government offers the awards to provide incentives for people to come forward and report these crimes.
Not only is health care fraud bad for America’s economy, sometimes its down right dangerous! In a recent case, a hospital physician charged that a cardiac care group was performing unnecessary cardiac stent procedures simply to bill Medicare and private insurance companies.
If you know of health care fraud, give us a call. All inquiries are strictly confidential. The fraud recovery lawyers at Mahany & Ertl can evaluate your case and let you know if we can help put an end to the fraud and help you collect money under the false claims act. Currently, we are prosecuting the largest false claims act case in the nation against a mortgage company – a $2.4 billion claim against Allied Home Mortgage. Large or small, we want to hear about your case.
For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at (414) 704-6731 (direct) / or attorney Joe Bird at All calls are held in strict confidence.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Detroit, Portland (Maine) & Minneapolis. Services available in most jurisdictions.