Healthcare fraud is a frightening epidemic in our country for a number of reasons. The first, and most obvious reason, is that it is stone cold robbery – a crime bilking our health insurance programs of incredibly important funding for our ill and injured.
However, another reason healthcare fraud is so frightening is that it brings out the worst in many of its perpetrators. And by “worst” we mean the unfeeling and heartless actions of putting financial gain ahead of the health and well-being of others.
The recent story of a Dallas-area couple and their Medicare hospice scheme is one of the most frightening to come across our desk in quite some time. As Valerie Wigglesworth and Holly K. Hacker reported in The Dallas Morning News late last month, Bradley J. Harris and his wife, Amy Harris have been indicted, along with 14 co-conspirators made up of nurses and doctors, in a $60 million Medicare fraud scheme.
The Harrises are owners of one of the largest hospice providers in North Texas – Novus Health Services and Optim Health Services Inc. (collectively known as Novus). However, the couple is now known for fraudulent actions that have led to the deaths of many of their patients. Thanks to medication overdoses administered by nurses who were working in cahoots with the Harrises, the couple not only robbed Medicare of millions of dollars, but robbed patients of their lives as well. We’re not sure how healthcare fraud can get much worse than that.
“Harris would place patients on continuous care – which Medicare paid at a higher daily rate than routine care – whether those patients needed it or not,” inform Wigglesworth and Hacker, “In 2013, Medicare paid a daily rate of $153 for routine hospice services compared with the daily rates for continuous care that ranged from $303 to $895, according to the indictment.”
In addition, they note that nurses gave high doses of such drugs as morphine whether they were needed by the patients or not. That way, Novus would be able to justify higher payments. While not all of the excessive dosages resulted in death, serious bodily injury was endured by many of the patients. U.S. Attorney John Parker summed up these disgusting acts this way: “That these defendants used human life at its most vulnerable stage as the grist for this scheme displays a shocking level of depravity that this community simply cannot tolerate.”
All in all, Medicare and Medicaid paid Novus more than $35 million of the $60 million they were billed for. Among the Harris’ charges were “submitting false claims for hospice services, submitting false claims for continuous care hospice services, recruiting ineligible hospice beneficiaries by providing kickbacks to referring physicians and health care facilities, and falsifying and destroying documents to conceal these activities from Medicare,” report Wigglesworth and Hacker.
As always, the team of clinical experts, here at Allegiant Experts, keeps its collective eyes open for stories like this. And, more importantly, we keep ourselves ready and available for attorneys who are trying cases against such perpetrators of healthcare fraud. If you’re an attorney who could use our help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
For more information about our experience, expertise and how we may be able help your case, call us at 407-217-5831 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.