Houston Man Gets 24 Month Prison Sentence For Anti-Kickback & Other Health Care Fraud Convictions

June 30, 2012

A Federal judge in Houston on June 25, 2012 gave Kelvin Washington a 24-month federal prison sentence for each of his six convictions of health care fraud, conspiracy conviction and three counts of violating the anti-kickback statute, all to be served concurrently. The court additionally ordered three years supervised release, of which the first 12 months of to be served as home confinement. The Court also ordered Washington to pay approximately $480,000 in restitution to Medicare and Medicaid.

During the December, 2011 trial, Washington was convicted Washington of his six convictions of health care fraud, conspiracy conviction and three counts of violating the anti-kickback statute.  The Department of Justice charged that from 2003 to 2007, Washington received illegal payments for the referral of dialysis patients to a Houston ambulance transport service and conspired with others to have unsuspecting doctors sign transport prescriptions for dialysis patients never admitted to a Sugar Land nursing home where he worked.   During the trial, witnesses testified Washington was paid for the referral of dialysis patients to an ambulance service that was under contract with the nursing home where he worked. Trial evidence also showed he would present prescriptions to doctors who worked at the nursing home. The doctors testified at trial that they would not have signed the prescriptions if they had known the various patients were never admitted to the nursing home.

The jury also heard evidence that the ambulance service paid the Washington in checks totaling $22,200 with many tied to specific patients. Washington did not report all the income he made to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from the ambulance service. At trial, an undercover video and audio tape showed one of the managers of the ambulance company bribing a patient to ride with the ambulance company. The ambulance company would later bill Medicare for this patient, a paid informant whose own doctors would not sign a prescription for him. The bill to Medicare was based upon a false script from Washington. In a search warrant executed on a co-conspirator’s home, “The List” was discovered which detailed payments made not only to Washington but also to patients who rode with the ambulance service. A computer file from that home also showed detailed records tracking payments for patients, the check numbers for those payments and the fact that payments were made to the defendant.

According to the Justice Department, the false scripts alone resulted in $1.2 million billed to Medicare and Medicaid and approximately $480,000 paid.  For more details, see here.

Health Care Providers Must Act To Manage Risks

In response to the growing emphasis and effectiveness of Federal officials in investigating and taking action against health care providers and organizations, health care providers covered by federal false claims, referral, kickback and other health care fraud laws should consider auditing the adequacy of existing practices, tightening training, oversight and controls on billing and other regulated conduct, reaffirming their commitment to compliance to workforce members and constituents and taking other appropriate steps to help prevent, detect and timely redress health care fraud exposures within their organization and to position their organization to respond and defend against potential investigations or charges.  In light of the growing qui tam risks, health care providers also should tighten internal investigation, exit interview and other human resources and business partner oversight, reporting and investigation policies and practices to help identify and redress potential fraud or other qui tam, retaliation and similar  exposures early and more effectively.  

For More Information Or Assistance

If you need assistance 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. Her experience includes advising hospitals, nursing home, home health, rehabilitation and other health care providers and health industry clients to establish and administer compliance and risk management policies; prevent, conduct and investigate, and respond to peer review and other quality concerns; and to respond to Board of Medicine, Department of Aging & Disability, Drug Enforcement Agency, OCR Privacy and Civil Rights, HHS, DOD and other 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. Her insights on these and other related matters appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, 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 responding to concerns about the matters discussed in this publication or other health care concerns, wish to obtain information about arranging for training or presentations by Ms. Stamer, wish to suggest a topic for a future program or update, or wish to request other information or materials, please contact Ms. Stamer via telephone at (214) 452-8297 or via e-mail here.

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns from Ms. Stamer, see 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:

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©2012 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C. Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.


Temple To Pay $1,088,574.93 To Resolve Exposures From Voluntarily Disclosed Improper Health Care Billings

May 18, 2012

Dr. Joseph Kubacki and Temple University Of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education (“Temple”) have agreed to pay the United States a combined $1,088,574.93, resolving Temple’s voluntary disclosure that it improperly billed the United States for medical services provided by residents but that Temple billed as though they had been performed by attending physicians. The settlement resolves charges brought in response to the voluntary disclosure by Temple of the improper billing in question.

The False Claims Act makes it illegal for any person or entity to present a false or fraudulent claim to the United States for payment and/or to retain overpayments that were improperly received. Federal programs only reimburse hospitals for services which attending physicians performed or which attending physicians were present for the critical portions. Those physicians certify that they were present when the critical portion of the services were performed as part of the charting and billing process.

Dr. Kubacki, formerly the Chairman of Temple’s Ophthalmology Department, was convicted by a jury on August 22, 2011 of 73 counts of health care fraud, 73 counts of false statements in health care matters, and four counts of wire fraud. The evidence at his trial showed that he billed the United States for performing services that were performed by residents when he was not even physically present in the hospital. The settlement with Temple pertains both to this fraud and to other fraud discovered in Temple’s plastic surgery department, where attending physicians were present in the hospital at the time services were performed but were not actually present for the critical portions of the services for which they submitted claims.

Although Temple trained its physicians in charting and billing requirements, this training did not prevent the fraud from occurring.

In light of Temple’s voluntary disclosure and self-audit, and upon the evaluation of Temple’s compliance structure by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, Temple will continue to implement its corporate compliance program without the need for a Corporate Integrity Agreement overseen by the Office of the Inspector General.

This resolution is part of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s Special Focus Team Health Care Initiative. The case was investigated civilly by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General and Assistant United States Attorneys Paul Kaufman and Susan Dein Bricklin. Dr. Kubacki was prosecuted criminally by Assistant United States Attorneys Anthony Kyriakakis and Matthew Hogan.

For more details, see United States Settled With Temple University and Dr. Joseph Kubacki Over Improper Billing.


HHS announces Rules Implementing Tools Added By Affordable Care Act to Prevent Federal Health Program Fraud

September 22, 2010

 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed new rules it hopes to strengthen its efforts to help identify and fight waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The rules implementing a series of provisions designed to fight fraud in the health care system enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act follow on the heels of HHS’ announcement of the Center for Program Integrity within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) focused on identifying and stopping fraud and acting swiftly to protect beneficiaries.  Given the expanded powers to suspend program eligibility and other risks providers will face under these new rules, all health care providers participating in any of these federal programs should both review and strengthen their compliance efforts and practices and share any concerns in response to the proposed rules.

Among other things, the proposed rule will:

  • Define requirements for suspending payments to providers and suppliers based on credible allegations of fraud in Medicare and Medicaid;
  • Establish CMS authority for imposing a temporary moratorium on Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP enrollment on providers and suppliers when necessary to help prevent or fight fraud, waste, and abuse without impeding beneficiaries’ access to care.
  • Strengthen and build on current provider enrollment and screening procedures to more accurately assure that fraudulent providers are not gaming the system and that only qualified  health care providers and suppliers are allowed to enroll in and bill Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP;
  • Outline requirements for states to terminate providers from Medicaid and CHIP when they have been terminated by Medicare or by another state Medicaid program or CHIP;
  • Solicit input on how to best structure and develop provider compliance programs, now required under the Affordable Care Act, that will ensure providers are aware of and comply with CMS program requirements.

Health care providers and others likely to be affected by these proposed rules should evaluate the proposals and act quickly to share input on any areas of concern as they prepare to strengthen their processes in response to the new rules and tools.

The author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, has extensive experience advising and assisting health care providers and other health industry clients to respond to these and other health care industry enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management matters. Ms. Stamer also regularly speaks and conducts training on and other health industry compliance, management and operations matters.  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

Other Recent Developments

If you found this information of interest, you also may be interested in reviewing some of the following recent Updates available online by clicking on the article title:

For More Information

We hope that this information is useful to you. If you need assistance evaluating or responding to the Health Care Reform Law or health care compliance, risk management, transactional, operational, reimbursement, or public policy concerns, please contact the author of this update, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, at (469) 767-8872, cstamer@Solutionslawyer.net.

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 23 years experience advising health industry clients about these and other matters. A popular lecturer and widely published author on health industry and human resources matters, Ms. Stamer continuously advises health industry clients about health industry and other related concerns. 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. Her insights on these and other related matters 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. For additional information about Ms. Stamer, her experience, involvements, programs or publications, see here.

You can review other recent health care and internal controls resources and additional information about the health industry and other experience of Ms. Stamer here. 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 at here or e-mailing this information here. To unsubscribe, e-mail here.

©2010 Solutions Law Press. All rights reserved.


OIG Special Fraud Alert Targets DME Telemarketing

January 21, 2010

By Cynthia Marcotte  Stamer 

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) on January 14, 2010 issued a Special Fraud Alert discussing potential violations of the anti-kickback statute for Federal health care programs durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers making unsolicited telephone calls to Medicare beneficiaries prematurely based only on physicians’ preliminary written or verbal orders or otherwise inappropriately.  DME companies and their telemarketing providers should review their current practices in light of the Special Fraud Alert and tighten practices as necessary to comply with its guidance.

The January 14, 2010 Special Fraud Alert focuses on the continuing efforts by some DME companies to circumvent the telemarketing prohibits on Section 1834(a)(17) by using independent marketing firms to make unsolicited telephone calls to Medicare beneficiaries to telemarket DME based on preliminary written or oral DME orders of physicians.  DME companies and their telemarketing providers should review their current practices in light of the Special Fraud Alert and tighten practices as necessary to comply with its guidance.  Read more here

Over the past year, HHS, the Department of Justice and other federal officials have significantly turned up the heat on health care fraud investigation and enforcement,  During December, 2010 alone, the Department of Justice reported more than 15 criminal fraud enforcement actions. See Federal HEAT & Other Federal Health Care Fraud Efforts Score More Than 15 Successes As OIG Claims $20.97 Billion Saved From Enforcement Activities In December.  These and other reports document the rising prosecution and enforcement risks that health care providers face for failing under federal health care fraud laws.  In light of the growing enforcement and emphasis of federal prosecutors and regulations on the detection and prosecution of organizations and individuals participating in billing or other activities that violate federal health care fraud laws, health care organizations, their officers, directors, employees, consultants and other business partners should tighten practices and step up oversight to minimize the likelihood that they or their organizations will engage in activities that federal regulators view as federal health care fraud.  Health care providers need to strengthen existing practices to withstand federal scrutiny, as well as to identify appropriate counsel, established plans and procedures and implement other arrangements for responding in the event the Department of Justice, HHS or other federal regulators audit or take other action regarding their practices or billings.

For More Information

We hope that this information is useful to you.  If you found these updates of interest, you also be interested in other updates on HEAT activities such as the following:

If you need assistance with these or other health care fraud, compliance, reimbursement, risk management, workforce and other health care concerns, please contact the author of this update, Curran Tomko Tarski LLP Health Practice Group Chair, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, at (214) 270‑2402, cstamer@cttlegal.com. Ms. Stamer has extensive experience advising clients and writes and speaks extensively on these and other health industry and other reimbursement, operations, internal controls and risk management matters.  You can review other recent health care and related resources and additional information about the health industry and other experience of Ms. Stamer here

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 at here or e-mailing this information here and/or by participating in the SLP Health Care Risk Management & Operations Group on LinkedIn.  To unsubscribe, e-mail here.

©2009 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.  All rights reserved.


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