COVID-19 has affected virtually every community on the planet. Since the virus was first identified in our state more than two years ago, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has confirmed more than 3.05 million cases of COVID-19. Federal, state, and local governments put a lot of public resources toward combating the outbreak along with its public health and economic effects.
Authorities contend that COVID-19 has caused an increase in healthcare fraud. Federal and state authorities are now cracking down. In this article, our seasoned Chicago healthcare fraud attorney provides an overview of the suspected rise of fraud in the health industry since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak and explains the steps that you should take if you are facing healthcare fraud allegations.
COVID-19 Pandemic: Authorities Contend that Healthcare Fraud is on the Rise
The COVID-19 pandemic posed a serious public health crisis and economic crisis. A key part of the initial federal response was an infusion of dollars through the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Other federal and state legislation has also been passed related to the pandemic. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) assesses that the infusion of dollars into the healthcare system, while necessary, resulted in an increase in health-related fraud. Some notable examples of recent COVID-19 healthcare fraud charges include:
- $143 Million Telemedicine Fraud: On May 26, 2021, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a number of different criminal charges related to an alleged $143 million telemedicine fraud scheme. Charges were filed against a corporate executive, marketing professionals, and licensed physicians. According to the allegations, the defendants engaged in a scheme whereby they obtained personal information from Medicare beneficiaries by providing COVID-19 tests and then submitting false claims to Medicare, allegedly billing the federal health program for expensive and unnecessary services.
- 138 People Charged in $1.4 Billion COVID-19 Fraud Case: As reported by CNBC, federal authorities charged 138 people in relation to a $1.4 billion COVID-19 white-collar healthcare fraud case in the Fall of 2021. Among those charges were more than three dozen medical professionals and several healthcare executives. The fraud scheme in question centered around COVID-19 diagnosis, telemedicine, prescription drugs, and the improper billing of federal health programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.
- $100 Million Diagnostic Testing Fraud: On November 3rd, 2021, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced charges against an Arkansas-based healthcare industry business owner related to a COVID-19 fraud scheme. The defendant allegedly billed public health programs for more than $100 million in medically unnecessary unnecessarily diagnostic laboratory tests. The defendant was charged with 16 counts of felony healthcare fraud.
There is no doubt: Authorities all around the country are cracking down on healthcare fraud. They are encouraging vigilance and aggressively investigating any allegations of misuse of public dollars or private dollars in the medical sector. Recently, the Illinois Health Care Fraud Elimination Task Force and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General have emphasized their intention to take action to stop healthcare fraud and hold the responsible parties accountable.
Facing COVID-19 Healthcare Fraud Allegations? Take These Steps to Protect Your Rights
Of course, not all healthcare fraud allegations investigated by or charged by state or federal authorities are substantiated by the evidence. The COVID-19 pandemic is complicated and so are healthcare fraud charges related to the pandemic. All defendants facing an allegation of healthcare fraud (medical business owners, corporate executives, doctors, etc) must be ready to act to protect their rights, their career, and their freedom. Here are three steps to take to protect your rights if you have been accused of COVID-19 healthcare fraud:
- Understand the Allegations: Healthcare fraud charges are complex. If you are accused of COVID-19-related misconduct, it is imperative that you take the time to understand the specifics of the allegations raised against you—including the potential for criminal or civil liability. If you are not sure exactly what you are being investigated for or charged with, you should speak to a healthcare fraud defense lawyer. An attorney can help you understand the possible scope of the charges.
- Be Proactive: With white-collar fraud cases, proactive defense is a must. If possible, you should begin building a defense before charges are filed. As soon as you learn that an investigation is underway, reach out to a healthcare fraud defense lawyer. You should also take other steps to protect yourself against fraud charges. Among other things, this means taking the time to secure and organize any evidence that could potentially be used to exonerate you against allegations of wrongdoing and support your defense
- Get Professional Legal Help: As healthcare fraud is a specialized field of criminal law, it is crucial that you have an experienced attorney on your side. Consult with a Chicago white-collar defense lawyer who handles healthcare fraud charges. Many healthcare billing fraud cases are prosecuted at the federal level.
Ultimately, every healthcare fraud case is different. Most healthcare fraud charges involve some allegations of billing fraud. Though, there are exceptions. No matter the specific circumstances of your case, you need to be ready to present a strong, well-supported legal defense. Do not go up against state or federal prosecutors on your own. They are aggressively pursuing white-collar fraud cases. An experienced Chicago, IL healthcare defense attorney will review your case and help you determine the best course of action.
Call Our Chicago Healthcare Fraud Defense Lawyers for Immediate Legal Help
At The Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman, our knowledgeable and aggressive Chicago healthcare fraud defense lawyers have the professional skills and legal expertise to handle state and federal healthcare fraud charges. If you or a loved one was arrested for COVID-related healthcare fraud, you may be unsure how to proceed. You should know that our team is here for you and we can help. Having trusted and strategic legal counsel representing your best interests is essential.
Call us at 312.726.9015 for a strictly confidential initial consultation. We provide healthcare fraud defense representation in Chicago, Cook County, and throughout Illinois.