Amental health counselor on probation for a 2010 Oklahoma City Medicaid fraud conviction was indicted by a multicounty grand jury last week after she was accused of continuing to defraud Medicaid.
Vickie Rhea Yearwood, 53, is accused of submitting false claims to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority in the last three months of 2011. Grand jurors say that Yearwood billed $34,000 for counseling sessions with fifteen children, but that the sessions never occurred.
They allege that she faked progress reports for the children to support her fraudulent claims. While the alleged fraud occurred, the counselor was already serving five years probation for a previous Medicaid fraud conviction. In 2010, she pleaded guilty to a felony charge of Medicaid fraud, and was sentenced to probation plus nearly $8,000 in restitution.
According to her Oklahoma City fraud lawyer, Yearwood has already promised to pay $34,000 in restitution for the current case. Medicare fraud and Medicaid fraud are federal white collar crimes. Such health care fraud occurs most frequently when medical caregivers file fraudulent claims for services not rendered or medical equipment not provided.
- Billing for tests not performed
- Performing unnecessary procedures
- Charging for equipment or supplies that were never ordered
- Billing for new equipment but providing the patient with used equipment
- Billing for high-end equipment but providing the patient with a cheaper alternative
- Code jamming, or inserting false diagnosis codes
- Unbundling services, using multiple codes for services typically billed under an inclusive code
- Up-coding, or using a diagnosis code that indicates the patient experienced complications or needed more extensive medical care
- Patient billing, in which a patient provides his or her Medicare or Medicaid number in return for kickbacks
The Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is charged with oversight of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which includes Medicare and Medicaid. When fraud is suspected, the investigation is often launched by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Penalties for Medicare fraud and Medicare fraud can be steep and may include prison, restitution, and a ban from participating in HHS programs. If you are being investigated for health care fraud, it is important that you contact an experienced Oklahoma City white collar crimes lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can help protect your rights during the investigation and can help you take a proactive approach to your defense.