By: James W. Kraus
On August 28, 2012, the DOJ announced that Jawad Ahmad, a Detroit area resident entered a plea of guilty for his role in managing a $13.8 million psychotherapy fraud scheme. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 28, 2012, and faces a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to the government, the fraud scheme began in July of 2008 when Ahmad and two other co-conspirators acquired control over a home health care company known as Physicians’ Choice Home Healthcare LLC (Physicians’ Choice). Ahmad managed the operations of Physicians’ Choice from January 2009 to March of 2010, and in doing so managed numerous aspects of fraud at Physicians’ Choice, including the delivery of payment of kickbacks to beneficiary recruiters. The beneficiary recruiters would obtain Medicare beneficiaries’ information needed to bill Medicare for home health services that, in fact, were never rendered.
Ahmad also provided information to employees of Physicians’Choice to check the billing eligibility of the Medicare beneficiaries before Physicians’ Choice began billing them. Physicians’ Choice co-opted the Medicare beneficiaries by providing kickbacks in exchange for pre-signed forms and visit sheets that were later falsified to indicate that they received home health services that they never received. Ahmad would deliver the pre-signed beneficiary paper work to various medical professionals to create and/or sign fictitious patient files to document purported home health services that were never rendered.
From May of 2010 through September of 2011, Ahmad also managed Phoenix Visiting Physicians, PLLC. DOJ claimed that his co-conspirator, Dr. Dwight Smith, signed home health care referrals for beneficiaries he had not seen or treated. In addition, Phoenix employed individuals who held themselves out to be “doctors,” but who were not licensed in the State of Michigan to perform any medical services. The unlicensed “doctors” met and purported to examine non-home bound Medicare beneficiaries for home health care services.
Ahmad also acknowledged that his co-conspirators acquired beneficial ownership and control of three other home health care companies, each of which billed Medicare and operated in a manner the same as or similar to Physicians’ Choice. Medicare also paid these companies more than $5 million for fraudulent health care claims submitted based on Dr. Smith’s fraudulent referrals.
It is estimated that the four home health care companies at the center of the indictment received approximately $13.8 million from Medicare in the course of the conspiracy.