MEDICARE FRAUD WHISTLEBLOWER ATTORNEYS
MEDICARE FRAUD ATTORNEYS
If you have evidence of past or ongoing health care fraud, you may be able to collect a substantial reward for reporting illegal conduct and bringing a federal case as a whistleblower. If you are ready to blow the whistle on health care fraud, make sure you have an experienced attorney on your side. At Price Armstrong, our lawyers have extensive experience successfully representing Medicare and Medicaid fraud whistleblowers and protecting them from retaliation and abuse – contact us for a free initial consultation and review of your case.
TYPES OF MEDICARE FRAUD CASES WE TAKE ON
The government relies on whistleblowers and the False Claims Act to uncover Medicare qui tam fraud, and it can take many forms. Price Armstrong has the expertise to pursue whistleblower cases in a variety of areas, including:
Hospitals may engage in multiple illegal practices and false claims to help boost their bottom line and collect more money than they are entitled. LEARN MORE >
MEDICAL NECESSITY FRAUD
A health professional may knowingly select a patient treatment that is not medically necessary with the goal of receiving a higher insurance reimbursement. LEARN MORE >
UPCODING & UNBUNDLING
Medical billing fraud can occur when an inaccurate billing code is used or multiple medical procedures are billed separately to obtain a higher reimbursement for treatment. LEARN MORE >
MEDICAL DEVICE & DURABLE MEDICAL EQUIPMENT FRAUD
Medical device manufacturers are incentivized to sell as much of their product as possible and can defraud the government in several ways, including offering kickbacks to doctors for using a product or falsely marketing a product for uses that have not been approved. LEARN MORE >
MEDICAL LOSS RATIO FRAUD
Health insurance providers commit fraud to escalate their medical spending reports by paying denied or excessive claims, misallocating revenue or falsifying medical expenses. LEARN MORE >
MEDICARE ADVANTAGE RISK ADJUSTMENT FRAUD
Healthcare providers may adjust patient records to make them appear in worse health than they actually are, inflating monthly payments that the company receives per policyholder. LEARN MORE >
SKILLED NURSING FACILITIES & HOSPICE FRAUD
Many skilled nursing facilities and hospice providers engage in improper practices, illegal deal making and fraud for financial gain. These activities include upcoding, unbundling, kickbacks, false claims, fraudulent billing and more. LEARN MORE >
Pharmaceutical manufacturers and suppliers may engage in activities resulting in a higher insurance or government reimbursement than permitted by law, ultimately at the taxpayer’s expense. LEARN MORE >
WHAT IS MEDICARE FRAUD?
Medicare and Medicaid are government insurance programs for individuals who are over the age of 65-years-old or people living with certain types of disabilities or illnesses. Federal health care fraud occurs with Medicare and Medicaid when healthcare providers and institutions bill the government for services or supplies that have not been provided, and can be committed by dishonest providers, practitioners or office staff. Typically, the person or people who commit healthcare fraud benefit from the act, and do not do so for the benefit of someone else.
This overcharging or unscrupulous billing against the law costs taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars every year and has caused healthcare costs to consistently rise. By some accounts, Medicare and Medicaid fraud accounts for more than twenty percent of total government spending on healthcare, over $200 million each year. Medicare and Medicaid whistleblowers have helped the federal government recover billions of fraudulent charges, but healthcare fraud perpetrated against the government is still rampant.
COMMON TYPES OF FRAUD AGAINST MEDICARE
At Price Armstrong, our Medicaid fraud lawyers have extensive experience representing whistleblowers who expose a wide range of corruption and fraud in the healthcare system, including:
- Billing for services not delivered (phantom billing) — This is perhaps the most common type of health care fraud and includes billing the government for services that were never given. Common examples include false billing for x-rays, blood tests, and supplies that were never provided to the patient.
- Billing for unnecessary services — Some hospitals have fraudulently performed tests or procedures that are not medically necessary. In the worst cases, this type of conduct is not only fraudulent, but can also endanger patient health.
- Falsification of patient records — Some providers may try to gain extra money by falsifying records to prove the necessity of more expensive procedures or surgeries.
- Unbundling — This is the process of separately billing for services that should be combined to receive reimbursement from the federal health care benefit program at a higher rate. When billing for services separately, the provider is usually able to receive higher payment. Unbundling, or “fragmentation” billing practices are fraudulent.
- Double billing — When a physician or hospital bills federal health care twice for the same service, this is known as double billing.
- Kickback fraud — The Stark Law prohibits kickbacks for patient referrals. This law includes any entity with which a provider has a financial relationship (absent certain exceptions applying), and also applies to labs, medical providers, and pharmaceutical companies may offer illegal kickbacks or incentives for using their products or for referrals.
- Physician self-referrals — Federal law prohibits physicians from referring patients to themselves or to immediate family members.
- Upcoding — This refers to the practice of exaggerating services rendered to a patient. Medicare and Medicaid reimburse hospitals and healthcare providers at a rate that varies with the type of treatment or procedure provided. Upcoding fraud occurs when a federal health care program is billed with a code for a more expensive diagnosis or procedure than the patient actually received.
- Falsification of cost reports — Adding additional expenses or padding reports to Medicare is an example of falsifying cost reports, which the law defines as a criminal offense. Personal expenses or costs necessary to run the healthcare setting are NOT able to be submitted to Medicare.
WHO CAN BLOW THE WHISTLE ON MEDICARE FRAUD?
Anyone who has uncovered Medicaid fraud in a healthcare setting may be able to report this fraud under the False Claims Act, bring a qui tam action on behalf of the federal government, and be rewarded as a whistleblower. Most often, whistleblowers are Medicare and Medicaid coders, billing specialists, physicians, nurses, or accountants who work for a healthcare provider that is filing false claims or otherwise engaged in fraud.
In order to qualify as a health care fraud whistleblower under the False Claims Act, you need to have inside or non-public knowledge of fraud, but you do not have to have been harmed personally. Changing laws and regulations can make Medicare and Medicaid fraud reporting difficult, so it is important to have an experienced Medicare fraud attorney willing to protect your interests throughout the process and provide a confidential evaluation of your case.
WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION & BENEFITS
Health care fraud whistleblowers can receive significant compensation for their efforts to combat the fraud which continues to cost taxpayers billions of dollars. The False Claims Act establishes that whistleblowers are entitled to 15 to 25 percent of the government’s recovery.
Given the number of Americans on federal health care and the vast resources devoted to these benefit programs, it is perhaps not surprising that Medicare and Medicaid fraud cases have constituted some of the largest qui tam recoveries in recent times. In 2015 alone, the federal government paid $597 million to whistleblowers who reported Medicaid fraud. By reporting actions that are against the law, not only you will be doing the right thing, but the government, in recognition of this public service, also mandates that you be awarded a substantial portion of any recovery as a reward for the public service you have provided.
PROTECTION FOR MEDICARE WHISTLEBLOWERS
If you are ready to report health care fraud in your workplace, know that you are protected by federal and state qui tam laws. Under the False Claims Act, you are protected from being harassed, fired, or reprimanded for your actions and compensated for the risks you take in exposing misconduct. Even though you are protected, the laws around whistleblowing in healthcare can be complicated, which is why it is crucial to consult with an experienced attorney who knows the law prior to taking action.
Before you report Medicare and Medicaid fraud, consult the attorneys at Price Armstrong. Your initial consultation is free and completely confidential. Our attorneys can help you determine which path is best for you and protect you against demotion, harassment, and termination.
WHISTLEBLOWER LAWS RELATED TO MEDICARE
Both federal and state laws govern Medicare fraud and it can be treated as both a criminal and a civil matter, depending on the level of fraud. The specific laws that address healthcare fraud and protect whistleblowers from retaliation include:
FALSE CLAIMS ACT
The civil False Claims Act imposes fines for Medicaid fraud of up to 3x the actual loss incurred by the program. The FCA also protects whistleblowers from harm and abuse during the process and offers them compensation for their work in uncovering Medicare fraud of up to 30% the amount recovered. LEARN MORE >
Paying others for referrals can be a crime in the healthcare setting. This statute forbids payment back to another doctor or healthcare provider for referring patients. Payment could include cash, meals, or travel. Both the person receiving the kickback and the one giving the kickback are both held liable under the Anti-Kickback Statute. Penalties for this type of health care fraud include fines, prison time, and termination in the Medicare program. LEARN MORE >
This statute prohibits individuals convicted of crimes from participating in federal healthcare programs like Medicare. Excluded physicians cannot bill directly or indirectly for services rendered to Medicare patients.
This law forbids physicians from making referrals to themselves or to any immediate family member which has a direct investment. Self-referrals can be punished by exclusion from participating in federal healthcare programs, in addition to any monetary recovery. LEARN MORE >
STEPS TO REPORT MEDICARE FRAUD
If you are aware of health care fraud and are ready to report this illegal practice, follow these steps.
- Contact a Medicare fraud attorney for a confidential, free consultation. During this meeting, your lawyer will discuss your options and protection moving forward.
- If your case qualifies for a qui tam lawsuit, the claim will be filed by your attorney against the party committing fraud. This suit is filed under seal and remains as so for the duration of the investigation – your identity is protected throughout the process.
- The federal government will decide whether or not it will intervene. If the government declines to intervene, you and your attorney will proceed with the litigation. If the government does intervene, as it does in 15% of filed cases, they will litigate the case moving forward.
- If the government proceeds, you will still be entitled to 15%-20% of the recovery. If you and your lawyer achieve a successful case result, you will be entitled to 25%-30% of the recovery.
If you meet with a lawyer to discuss your knowledge of health care fraud, that does not mean that you are committing to filing a lawsuit, just that you want to know your options.
HOW WE REPRESENT YOU
Our country relies on the reporting of whistleblower nurses, pharmacists, billing coders, and doctors to prevent fraud and corruption in our healthcare system. At Price Armstrong, we protect whistleblowers in accordance with the False Claims Act and safeguard their future. Our Medicare and Medicaid whistleblower lawyers have extensive experience litigating healthcare qui tam lawsuits and maximizing whistleblower recovery.
MEDICARE FRAUD FAQS
The Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will often investigate reports of Medicare fraud together with the FBI.
Review all billing, summary notices, and explanation of benefits. If you work for a healthcare provider, you may be told by your employer to bill Medicare for services not provided or to change the coding when billing. This is against the law and should be reported.
It is important to have concrete evidence of the fraud before reporting it. While documentary evidence is not required, it is considered in many cases and can play a role in your case. Records of improper charges, emails stating fraudulent claims, or in-office memos can be helpful, however, there are important factors to consider before removing company documents. Our qui tam attorneys are experienced in evaluating the evidence of Medicaid fraud you have and in navigating the rules about disclosure that ensure your rights are protected.
Simply reporting the fraud is often not enough to receive compensation for whistleblowing. You must formally file a claim in court and include evidence of the misconduct under the False Claims Act.
Under the False Claims Act, the government can choose to take over the case, called “intervention,” or can decline to do so. Less than 15% of cases are intervened in by the government. However, this is often due to factors that are unrelated to the strength of the case, the amount of information brought by the whistleblower, or the nature or extent of the Medicaid fraud reported. Some qui tam lawyers will not represent you or pursue your case if the government declines to intervene.
CONTACT US FOR A FREE CASE EVALUATION
If you have evidence of past or ongoing health care fraud, contact the attorneys at Price Armstrong. We can help you seek justice and protect your rights throughout the process. We represent clients nationwide with offices in Birmingham, AL, Tallahassee, FL and Albany, GA. Call us today at (205) 208-9588 for a free initial consultation and review of your case. Let us fight for you – call now!