On July 9, 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it has indicted and arraigned a New York-based anesthesiologist for her alleged role in a $7 million telemedicine conspiracy to fraudulently bill Medicare, Medicare Part D plans, and private insurance plans. According to DOJ’s press release, this indictment results from work by the Criminal Division’s Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a joint initiative of DOJ and HHS. It appears to be consistent with recent focus by DOJ and HHS on alleged misuse of telemedicine to prescribe DME to Medicare beneficiaries.
Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York charged anesthesiologist Anna Steiner, also known as “Hanna Wasielewska,” with one count of conspiring to commit healthcare fraud by misusing telemedicine channels under agreements with unidentified companies to prescribe durable medical equipment (DME) and drugs to more than 3,000 beneficiaries. The full indictment is available here.
The June 27 indictment alleges that, from January 2015 to May 2018, Steiner and other providers allegedly received kickback payments from unidentified companies for improper telemedicine encounters. The indictment alleges Steiner “prescribed and ordered DME and prescription drugs for beneficiaries who were not examined or evaluated by a licensed physician.” The prescriptions flowing from the alleged telemedicine encounters were for DME and drugs that prosecutors claim were neither medically necessary nor the result of genuine physician-patient relationships.
The indictment alleges that Steiner and her co-conspirators submitted and caused to be submitted over $7 million in claims to Medicare for DME on behalf of more than 3,000 beneficiaries, resulting in over $3 million in payments on those claims. The indictment includes a criminal forfeiture allegation.