Tampa Federal Health Care Fraud Lawyer
Through Medicare and Medicaid, the federal government provides health care benefits to millions of Americans. Unfortunately, many doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and chiropractors steal hundreds of millions of dollars from these programs using fraudulent schemes each year. The situation is so bad that the federal government has created strike forces to aggressively investigate and prosecute suspected health care fraud.
Florida is “ground zero” in this fight. We have a strike force in Tampa, which analyzes data and investigates complaints of fraud. Collectively, these strike forces have brought thousands of charges against doctors and others for Medicare fraud.
If you have received a subpoena or a visit from the authorities, contact O’Mara Law Group today. One of our Tampa federal health care fraud lawyers will be happy to assist in your defense.
Federal Statutes for Health Care Fraud
Prosecutors have their pick of several federal laws to use when investigating and charging someone for suspected health care fraud.
For example, 18 U.S.C. §1347 makes it illegal for a person to knowingly execute (or attempt to execute) a fraudulent scheme to secure health care benefits. The language in this statute is very broad and can cover any fraudulent delivery of health care or payment. Another provision, §1349, criminalizes acts in furtherance of a conspiracy.
Additional federal laws also apply. The federal Anti-Kickback statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b, makes it illegal to receive payment or anything of value in exchange for a referral involving federal health care programs. As an example, a dermatologist cannot agree to pay a doctor $20 for each referral she receives.
The Stark Law specifically prohibits doctors from referring a Medicare patient to any practice in which the doctor has an ownership interest. For example, a doctor who is part owner of a surgical center cannot make referrals to it.
Prosecutors might also bring charges under the False Claims Act, especially where a supplier charges too much for goods or services. The government can seek treble damages, so someone who defrauds the government of $100,000 could pay $300,000 back.
These are only some of the major federal statutes at play. There may be others, such as the Controlled Substances Act, Racketeering charges, and others.
Steps to Take if Investigated
As mentioned above, the federal government is constantly looking for data or information that suggests fraud is taking place. For that reason, it isn’t unusual for even innocent practitioners to receive a subpoena or a visit from investigators. There are critical steps that suspects must take to protect themselves.
- First, refuse to voluntarily give a statement. The Constitution protects against self-incrimination, and there is no reason to speak with investigators without first talking to a lawyer.
- Second, don’t ignore a subpoena. Doing so can lead to stiffer sanctions and bigger problems down the road.
- Third, don’t shred documents, delete files, or wipe out phone messages. The government might not be entitled to everything it is requesting, but you need to challenge a subpoena in the correct way. Destroying evidence is itself a crime.
Contact O’Mara Law Group Today
Our Tampa federal health care fraud attorneys will be by your side throughout the entire, stressful process. Call today to schedule a free, confidential consultation with a member of our team.