The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged a Long Island cardiologist with three counts of healthcare fraud in an alleged scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid of more than $1.3 million in connection with COVID-19 testing.
The defendant, Perry Frankel, MD, age 64, from Roslyn, New York, owns and operates Advanced Cardiovascular Diagnostics PLLC.
Federal prosecutors allege that Frankel "caused the submission of claims to Medicare and Medicaid for office visits that were not performed for patients who received COVID-19 tests at Advanced Cardiovascular Diagnostics PLLC's mobile testing sites across Long Island, including on dates when Frankel was not present in the state of New York," the DOJ said in a statement.
Frankel was arrested April 20 and arraigned the same day before US District Judge Joanna Seybert.
"As alleged, exploiting a public health crisis by using patients who received COVID-19 tests at mobile testing sites to fraudulently bill Medicare and Medicaid for fictitious office visits is reprehensible," US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace said in the statement.
"This Office and our law enforcement partners will vigorously prosecute those who take advantage of the pandemic to steal from taxpayer-funded programs," Peace adds.
"As alleged, Frankel took advantage of the COVID-19 health crisis to engage in a fraud scheme that undermined our healthcare system and the people it serves," said Scott J. Lampert, Special Agent-in-Charge, US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General’s Office of Investigations (HHS-OIG).
"Such scams waste taxpayer funds and drive up healthcare costs for all of us. HHS-OIG and our law enforcement partners will remain vigilant in our efforts to root out all related fraud schemes during the ongoing public health emergency," Lampert said.
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The charges against Frankel, filed in Central Islip, New York, are part of a coordinated effort to combat healthcare fraud led by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.
Their efforts have led to criminal charges against 21 defendants for their alleged participation in healthcare fraud schemes related to COVID-19 involving more than $149 million in false and fraudulent claims.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged more than 4200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for nearly $19 billion.
"The Department of Justice's Health Care Fraud Unit and our partners are dedicated to rooting out schemes that have exploited the pandemic," Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said in the statement.
This latest enforcement action "reinforces our commitment to using all available tools to hold accountable medical professionals, corporate executives, and others who have placed greed above care during an unprecedented public health emergency," Polite said.
Timothy Sini, Frankel's lead attorney and a partner with Nixon Peabody LLP, Boston, told Medscape Cardiology in a statement that Frankel is a respected cardiologist in the Long Island region who has saved lives by providing vital mobile medical screenings to law enforcement, school districts, and many communities across Long Island and the five boroughs.
"The government, as part of a larger initiative, is targeting healthcare providers who supposedly took advantage of the pandemic to benefit themselves financially," he said. "Nothing could be further from the truth here. Dr Frankel provided a much-needed service during a public health crisis and an extremely challenging time. It is unfortunate that the government’s claims seek to undermine the positive nature of Dr Frankel’s work. We look forward to pursuing justice for Dr Frankel and clearing his name in the medical community."
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Cite this: New York Cardiologist Indicted in COVID Testing Scheme - Medscape - Apr 28, 2022.