WASHINGTON D.C. – Health care fraud task forces are turning their attention to the executive level of health care enterprises. In an effort to crackdown on those who would perpetrate health care fraud, investigators have begun aiming their efforts at the owners and operators of drug companies, medical device manufacturers, nursing home chains and any health care business involved with Medicare and Medicaid. Senior executives could find themselves facing criminal charges even if they had no knowledge of their company’s activities, but were in a position to stop it.
Prosecutors have become fed up with repeated violations, which cost taxpayers more than $60 billion per year and have decided to use enforcement tools that have long been in place, but simply not used. A simple writing of a check to repay the federal funds and a promise not to repeat the offense have been used too often, so now corporate executives must pay closer attention to how their company is billing Medicare and Medicaid lest they find themselves in hot water with the feds.
The crackdown may result in a company’s ban from participating in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, but the power to ban lies solely with the inspector general, not a judge. The FDA has also begun using the “Park Doctrine” which allows prosecutors to bring criminal charges against executives. Any corporate officer in the chain of command could charged with a criminal misdemeanor if found to have the ability within their power to prevent the fraud.