Washington: US Federal prosecutors have charged 26 people, including 19 Indians, with participating in a scheme to defraud government Medicare and Medicaid services for the elderly of nearly $60 million in unwarranted prescriptions.
An indictment unsealed in Detroit accuses Babubhai “Bob” Patel, 49, a Canton Township pharmacist, of using his ownership in more than 20 Michigan pharmacies to facilitate the fraud, according to Detroit News.
Prosecutors allege that Patel used kickbacks and other inducements to convince physicians to write prescriptions that were filled at his pharmacies “without regard to the medical necessity of those prescriptions and services”.
Since 2006, prosecutors allege that Patel Pharmacies wrongly billed Medicare for more than $37.7 million in prescriptions and Medicaid another $20.8 million.
“Health care fraud steals funds from programmes designed to benefit patients, and we all pay for it,” US Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement.
In addition to the pharmacists and doctors, those charged include a psychologist, an accountant and several business associates from the area.
According to prosecutors, Patel allegedly also used recruiters to find patients who, in exchange for kickbacks, would allow the pharmacies to bill their insurance for drugs and other services.
The pharmacies were in Detroit, Dearborn, Southfield, Warren, Taylor, Berkley, Pontiac, Troy, Hazel Park, Oak Park, Waterford, Livonia, Commerce Township, Roseville, Bay City, Saginaw and Kalamazoo.
All of the defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and 23 of the 26 were charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
In addition to Patel, those named in the 34-count indictment are physician Paul Petre, pharmacists Dineshkmar Patel, Anish Bhavsar, Ashwini Sharma, Pinakeen Patel, Kartik Shah, Viral Thaker, Hiren Patel, Miteshkumar Patel, Lokeh Tayal, Narendera Cheraku and Chetan Gujarathi.
Arpitkumar Patel, Sumanray Raval, Harpreet Sachdeva, Ramesh Patel, Rana Naeem, physician Mustak Vaid, psychologist and patient recruiter Sanyani Edwards and business associate Komal Acharya have also been named in the indictment. By Arun Kumar