Fla. Medical Equipment Provider to Pay $1.38 Million in Medicare/Medicaid Fraud Case

July 22, 2004

Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist announced a settlement with Doctor’s Choice Medical Equipment of Largo Inc., for fraudulently billing the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The company has agreed to pay more than $1.38 million to settle allegations that it double-billed and submitted false claims for medical equipment sales.

An investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the U.S. Attorney’s Office reportedly uncovered that Doctor’s Choice improperly billed the Medicare and Medicaid programs for certain durable medical items, such as nebulizer supplies and wheelchairs, from January 1994 to December 1998. The company double-billed Medicare and Medicaid for some items and billed them for others never ordered or supplied.

Doctor’s Choice was sold to new owners in 1999. The new owners discovered some of the improper billing and disclosed it to the government. An employee of Doctor’s Choice also came forward and disclosed certain other improprieties. As a whistleblower, she will receive a share of the settlement.

Of the $1.38-million settlement, the State of Florida will receive more than $777,000. Approximately $383,000 of this will be returned to the Medicaid program and $54,000 will be paid to the Doctor’s Choice whistleblower. The remaining $329,000 will be paid to the Office of the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney’s Office as a penalty. The U.S. Attorney’s Office recovered more than $608,000 for the Medicare program. The whistleblower will receive a share of these funds as well.

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