Three defendants indicted for engaging in various Federal health care fraud offenses related to their involvement in the operation of a North Texas based health care company, Euless Healthcare Corporation, were arrested on November 17, 2011. The charges highlight the health care fraud risks that health care providers, their owners and leaders face for engaging in activities that Federal officials view as prohibited under health care fraud laws.
According to the Justice Department, a 10-count indictment unsealed against Ovsanna Agopian, aka “Joanna Ovsanna,” “Joanna Smbatyan,” and “Ovsanna Agopian,” Boghos Babadjanian and Tolulope Labeodan charges each defendant wit one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and nine substantive counts of health care fraud.
According to the indictment, Agopian was the principal operator of Euless Healthcare Corporation (EHC), located at 222 West Bedford Euless Road in Hurst. Babadjanian was the owner of EHC and Labeodan was an employee of EHC. The indictment alleges that the three defendants ran a conspiracy to defraud Medicare by submitting claims for office visits and diagnostic tests that were never performed. The indictment alleges that Agopian recruited doctors to work for EHC by telling them that they would treat beneficiaries in the beneficiaries’ homes. However, the doctors that Agopian recruited never saw beneficiaries at the EHC clinic or beneficiaries’ homes. Prosecutors claim Agopian directed Labeodan, who is not a medical professional and does not have a Medicare provider number, to take beneficiary files from the EHC clinic and purportedly see beneficiaries. However, many beneficiaries, in whose names EHC submitted claims for reimbursement, have never heard of EHC or any of the doctors Agopian recruited.
Federal prosecutors claim that EHC used those doctors’ Medicare provider numbers to falsely bill Medicare more than $700,000 for office visits and diagnostic test for which the defendants allegedly collected Medicare reimbursement checks totaling more than $370,000.
According to the Justice Department, the case is being investigated by the Dallas Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) Strike Force, which includes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the FBI and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Since their inception in March 2007, Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,140 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $2.9 billion.
While health care fraud enforcement remains a lead Federal priority, health care providers in Texas and other HEAT Strike Force targeted regions face heightened exposures to HEAT task force scrutiny and prosecution. In response to these and other investigation and oversight activities, health care providers should strengthen their compliance practices and oversight and take other special care to position themselves and their billings to defend against possible challenge.
For Help With Compliance, Investigations Or Other Needs
If you need assistance providing compliance or other training, reviewing or responding to these or other health care related risk management, compliance, enforcement or management concerns, the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, may be able to help. Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 24 years experience advising health industry clients about these and other matters. Ms. Stamer has extensive experience advising and assisting health care providers and other health industry clients to establish and administer medical privacy and other compliance and risk management policies, to health care industry investigation, enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management concerns. A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry concerns, Ms. Stamer continuously advises health industry clients about compliance and internal controls, workforce and medical staff performance, quality, governance, reimbursement, and other risk management and operational matters. Ms. Stamer also publishes and speaks extensively on health and managed care industry regulatory, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, public policy, reimbursement and other operations and risk management concerns/ She also regularly designs and presents risk management, compliance and other training for health care providers, professional associations and others. Her publications and insights appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, World At Work, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications. You can get more information about her health industry experience here. If you need assistance with these or other compliance concerns, wish to inquire about arranging for compliance audit or training, or need legal representation on other matters please contact Ms. Stamer at (469) 767-8872 or via e-mail here.
About Solutions Law Press
Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources including:
- Medical Identity Theft/Fraud Convictions Highlight Need For Health Care Providers To Safeguard Health Information, Guard Against Fraud Schemes
- Detroit-Area Foot Doctor Pleads Guilty to Medicare Fraud Scheme
- Merck To Pay $950 Million To Settle Vioxx® Off-Label Marketing Charges
- Texas Medical Board Suspends Child Psychiatrist For Sexual Misconduct
- 100,000+ Primary Care Providers Signed Up To Get EHRs Regional Extension Centers
- Joint Commission Equal Visitation Rules & Guidance Supplement New Medicare Equal Visitation Requirements
- OCR Audit Program Kickoff Further Heats HIPAA Privacy Risks
- Houston Doctor Gets 135 Month Health Care Fraud Sentence
- Bill Extending Funding For Certain Veteran Medical and Other Projects Heads To President
- OCR Settlements Show Health Care & Disabled Housing Providers Face Growing Disability Discrimination Risks
- UCLA Health Systems Payment of $865,500 To Settle HIPAA Charges Shows Rising HIPAA Risk
- Indictment of 91 Shows Growing Health Care Fraud
- Unions Get New Tool As NLRB Changes Bargaining Units Certification Rules For Non-Acute Health Care Facilities
- Texas Doctor, Pharmacy Suspension Reminder of Pain Management Prescribing Risks
- Supreme Court Ruling Medical Resident Stipend Are Wages Highlights Advisability of Compliance Review
- Minimum Wage, Overtime Risks Highlighted By Labor Department Strike Force Targeting Residential Care & Group Homes
- DEA Cautions Practitioners Must Restrict Delegation of Controlled Substance Prescribing Functions, Urges Adoption of Written Policies & Agreements
If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile here. For important information concerning this communication see here.
THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMER IS INCLUDED TO COMPLY WITH AND IN RESPONSE TO U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR 230 REGULATIONS. ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN BY THE WRITER TO BE USED, AND NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN CAN BE USED BY YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (1) AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW, OR (2) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TAX-RELATED TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED HEREIN.
©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C. Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press. All other rights reserved.