Medicaid scam arrests were announced Tuesday for 23 defendants in New York City, including 9 doctors who prosecutors say exploited poor and homeless people to milk government coffers.
"Arresting nine physicians today should be a warning that when you commit health care fraud and compromise patient care, we will arrest you. Justice doesn’t discriminate," said Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert, reported the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The 199-count indictment alleges that Eric Vainer, 43, and his mother, Polina Vainer, hired recruiters to offer sneakers and other shoes to low-income citizens in order to lure them to one of five medical centers in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Once there, the targets would receive a number of medical tests, including foot check-ups, pain-management evaluations, and cardiograms.
The Vainers, along with two medical-supply companies and a management company named in the indictment, would then submit the doctors' bills to Medicaid, Medicaid managed-care providers, and Medicare.
"This was all done under the guise of medical treatment, just to defraud Medicaid and Medicare," said Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, according to The Wall Street Journal
. "These defendants exploited poor people to make money."
Four doctors that performed the tests and formed a circuit of referrals for their new patients specialized in podiatry, while two nurses and one doctor provided psychiatric care. Two cardiologists and a vascular surgeon were also named in the indictment.
The investigation was a yearslong process, and included wiretaps and undercover agents posing as patients.
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