Detroit-Area Doctor Charged for Role in Alleged $40 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Department of Justice September 20, 2012|
WASHINGTON—A Detroit-area doctor was charged and arrested today in the Eastern District of Michigan for his alleged leading role in a $40 million Medicare fraud scheme involving physician home visits and home health services, announced the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the FBI, and the HHS-Office of Inspector General (OIG). In addition to the arrest, law enforcement agents executed search warrants at three locations and seizure warrants for three bank accounts related to the scheme.
According to a criminal complaint unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Detroit, Dr. Hicham Elhorr, 45, masterminded a $40 million scheme involving the submission of fraudulent claims submitted to Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary and/or never provided through House Calls Physicians (HCP), a physician home visiting service he owned and operated. Elhorr allegedly submitted claims through HCP for physician home visits for patients who were never seen and for visits conducted by doctors who were not licensed. The complaint alleges Elhorr submitted claims to Medicare for physician home visits purportedly rendered when he was out of the country, when beneficiaries were hospitalized, or when the beneficiary was dead.
Elhorr is also alleged to have referred Medicare beneficiaries for medically unnecessary home health services, as well as accepted kickbacks from home health agencies in exchange for writing these referrals. According to court documents, since January 2008, HCP has billed Medicare for approximately $9.2 million. In the same time period, HCP has allegedly referred Medicare beneficiaries for home health services that have resulted in approximately $30.8 million of reimbursements from Medicare.
Today’s charges were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan; Special Agent in Charge Robert D. Foley, III of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh, III of the HHS-OIG Chicago Regional Office.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Catherine K. Dick of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The investigations were conducted jointly by the FBI and HHS-OIG, as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan and the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
Criminal complaints contain merely charges, and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,330 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $4 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.