On April 10th, a 45-year-old medical supply company owner who allegedly posed as a doctor or other clinician at 20 Long Island nursing homes was sentenced to 12 years in prison for Medicare fraud. A U.S. District Judge also ordered Helene Michel of Old Brookville, New York to forfeit $1.3 million of the reportedly $10.7 million she purportedly acquired through Medicare fraud. The woman was convicted of medical ID theft, wrongful disclosure of nursing home patient information that was protected by HIPAA, and conspiracy to commit Medicare fraud in August 2012.
According to federal prosecutors, Michel stole patient information from paper records maintained by the nursing homes and used the data to submit fraudulent Medicare bills on behalf of her company, Medical Solutions Management, between 2003 and 2007. Michel allegedly posed as a healthcare professional using a number of aliases in order to gain access to skilled nursing facility resident information. A statement issued by the United States Department of Justice claims Michel then used the information to seek financial compensation for equipment and services that were never provided by her medical supply company. The woman is also accused of submitting supplemental patient information when certain claims were denied.
The alleged fraud was reportedly discovered after a patient’s family noticed a number of services on her explanation of benefits summary that were never received. A co-owner of Medical Solutions Management is purportedly now wanted by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General. Although the records supposedly stolen by Michel were in paper format, two nursing facility workers in Florida were accused of stealing electronic patient information this month.
When most people enter a skilled nursing facility, becoming the victim of identity theft is the last thing on their mind. Still, it happens at alarming rates in Illinois and across the nation. This risk of fraud may be high at a number of long-term care facilities as most nursing homes operating in the State of Illinois receive Medicare and Medicaid funds. Because many long-term care facility residents have a difficult time advocating on their own behalf, loved ones must vigilantly protect the personal information of their senior relatives. If you believe your elderly or disabled family member was the victim of identity or other theft while residing at a skilled nursing home in Illinois, you should discuss your concerns with a quality attorney.
If your loved one was the victim of financial, physical, or sexual abuse at an Illinois nursing home, please give the caring lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. a call at (312) 924-7575. Our hardworking Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys are available 24 hours per day, every day of the week to help you protect the rights of your elderly friends and family members. For a free consultation with a diligent advocate, do not hesitate to contact Abels & Annes, P.C. through the law firm’s website.
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Hefty Prison Sentence in ID Theft Case, by Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, govinfosecurity.com