Our beautiful Sunshine State is known for its many glorious beaches and glistening waters. However, it’s no secret that things aren’t always sunny in the state of Florida. Just like the rest of the nation, it is home to individuals who take advantage of our nation’s healthcare system and the insurance programs that are part of it. 51 year-old Patrick Fitchner of Orlando is one of them.
As reported by the District of New Jersey branch of the U.S. Attorney's Office yesterday, Fitchner pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. As part of his plea, he admitted to his role in a durable medical equipment kickback scheme.
Fitchner solicited and received kickbacks and bribes.
Both documents filed in the case and statements made in court showed that Fitchner was embroiled in a scheme with several conspirators. Together, the group members solicited and received kickbacks and bribes. They did so in exchange for providing durable medical equipment (DME) companies with completed doctors’ orders for medically unnecessary DME, including orthotic braces.
“Fitchner and his conspirators utilized the service of telemedicine companies to obtain these prescriptions for DME, and the DME orders were subsequently fraudulently billed to Medicare and other health care benefit programs,” details the U.S. Attorney’s Office, “Fitchner and his conspirators were paid approximately $2.1 million in kickbacks for these DME orders and caused losses to Medicare and other health care benefit programs of at least $3.6 million.”
Kickbacks undermine the healthcare system.
Kickbacks create a significant conflict of interest for the individuals involved. When someone receives financial incentives for making decisions that are meant to be objective and in the best interest of an organization, it undermines trust and can lead to biased or unfair decisions.
Fitchner admitted that he and his conspirators submitted millions of dollars’ worth of claims to Medicare and other health benefits programs. The group knew that the claims were procured through the payment of kickbacks and bribes. As a result of their scheme, Medicare paid out $3.6 million in fraudulently obtained reimbursements.
Fitchner faces up to 10 years in prison.
The charge of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office informs. It is also punishable by a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross profit or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greatest. Fitchner is scheduled for sentencing on January 9, 2024.
The FBI’s Newark Special Agent in Charge, James E. Dennehy had this to say about the case: “Many scammers who commit healthcare fraud may believe the system is so complex that no one will miss a few thousand dollars here or a few million dollars there. The problem with that premise is we are paying attention, and our job as the FBI is to protect the general public from criminals who think they can game the system. Fitchner and his conspirators are now paying for their crimes, and others looking to follow suit should take note.”
Are you an attorney who is currently working a healthcare fraud case?
The clinical experts at Allegiant Experts can help you! We coordinate and support courageous whistleblowers that shine lights on fraud, waste and abuse. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 407-217-5831. You may also email us at email@example.com.