24/7 call for a free consultation 212-300-5196




When you’re facing a federal issue, you need an attorney whose going to be available 24/7 to help you get the results and outcome you need. The value of working with the Spodek Law Group is that we treat each and every client like a member of our family.

What Constitutes Medicaid or Medicare Fraud? | Orlando Healthcare Fraud Attorney

What Constitutes Medicaid or Medicare Fraud? | Orlando Healthcare Fraud Attorney

Medicaid and Medicare fraud is a big deal. As an Orlando healthcare fraud attorney, I see it all the time. People make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes cross the line into fraud. But what exactly constitutes fraud when it comes to Medicaid and Medicare? Let’s break it down.

Basics of Medicaid and Medicare

First, let’s cover the basics. Medicaid is the government health program for low-income people. Medicare is the government health program for seniors 65 and older. Both programs are administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

To participate in Medicaid, healthcare providers must enroll with state Medicaid programs. For Medicare, providers enroll with CMS directly. By enrolling, providers agree to comply with all applicable laws and regulations. If they don’t, they could face allegations of fraud.

Common Types of Fraud

Some of the most common Medicaid and Medicare fraud schemes include:

  • Billing for services not provided – This is straight up fraud. Billing for ghost patients or fake services.
  • Billing for unnecessary services – Ordering tests or procedures patients don’t need to pad the bill.
  • Billing for incorrect or upcoded services – Billing for more expensive services than were actually provided.
  • Kickbacks – Getting paid to refer patients to a certain healthcare provider.
  • Stark Law violations – Referring patients to other providers you have a financial relationship with.

Let’s go through these in more detail…

Billing for Services Not Provided

This type of fraud is often blatant and easy to prove. Examples include:

  • Billing for patients that don’t exist.
  • Billing for appointments that never happened.
  • Billing for procedures that were never performed.

In cases like these, prosecutors can show the services billed for never occurred. The provider can’t produce any records to justify the charges. It’s fraud, plain and simple.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

Billing for Unnecessary Services

Proving “medically unnecessary” services can be trickier. There is often a gray area between appropriate and inappropriate care. Examples include:

  • Ordering excessive lab tests that have no clear purpose.
  • Prescribing treatments that are not clinically indicated.
  • Admitting patients to hospitals or nursing homes when it’s not needed.

Prosecutors typically rely on expert testimony to show these services were not medically necessary. But providers can argue it was simply a matter of professional judgment. This area gets muddy at times.

Billing for Incorrect or Upcoded Services

Upcoding is a common scheme:

  • Billing for a more expensive service than was provided.
  • Using an inaccurate billing code to maximize reimbursement.

For example, billing a 30 minute psychotherapy session as 45 minutes. Or billing a basic office visit as a more complex visit. Prosecutors dig into medical records to reveal the true level of service.


The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits paying for patient referrals. For example, a hospital can’t pay a doctor to send patients there. Common schemes include:

  • Paying recruiters to find Medicare/Medicaid patients.
  • Waiving patient copays to induce referrals.
  • Giving doctors free rent to send patients to a healthcare facility.

These arrangements undermine impartial medical decision making. Patients may receive unnecessary or poor quality care. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) treats kickbacks as a top enforcement priority.

Stark Law Violations

The Stark Law prohibits referrals between providers with financial ties. For instance:

  • A doctor refers patients to an imaging center he owns.
  • A hospital sends patients to a home health agency it has invested in.

These relationships can influence medical decisions. The Stark Law aims to avoid that conflict of interest. But there are exceptions in some cases.

Penalties for Healthcare Fraud

The penalties for Medicaid/Medicare fraud depend on the specifics of each case. But they can include:

  • Civil monetary penalties up to $100,000 per false claim.
  • Triple damages based on the amount claimed falsely.
  • Criminal fines up to $250,000 per false claim.
  • Up to 10 years in prison for healthcare fraud convictions.
  • Exclusion from Medicaid and Medicare programs.

These are severe sanctions. But prosecutors take healthcare fraud very seriously. The stakes are high given the costs involved.

How Investigations Begin

Healthcare fraud investigations can start in many ways. Here are some of the most common:

  • Whistleblower complaints – Disgruntled employees reporting misconduct.
  • Audits – Routine CMS audits detecting irregularities.
  • Data mining – Identifying outlier billing patterns through data analysis.
  • Patient complaints – Beneficiaries reporting suspect claims.

In most cases, a complaint or red flag leads to a deeper dive. Investigators dig into medical records, talk to witnesses, and trace billing records. If they find substantive evidence of fraud, the case escalates.

Proving Criminal Intent

To convict someone of healthcare fraud, prosecutors must prove intent to defraud. This means knowingly deceiving or misrepresenting. Sometimes intent is obvious (like billing for fake patients). Other times, it’s ambiguous. Defendants often claim the billing errors were innocent mistakes.

Warning signs of intent include:

  • A pattern of improper billing rather than isolated incidents.
  • Steps taken to conceal the conduct.
  • Ignoring warnings or failing audits.
  • A past history of fraud allegations.

These types of red flags help establish the billing issues were no accident. The defendant knew their actions were wrong yet persisted anyway.

Parallel Civil and Criminal Cases

Healthcare fraud cases often have dual criminal and civil components. For example:

  • Federal prosecutors pursue criminal Medicare/Medicaid fraud charges.
  • Meanwhile, the Department of Justice files a civil False Claims Act lawsuit.

The civil case seeks financial damages and penalties. The criminal case seeks fines and jail time. Defendants have to fight the battle on two fronts.

Common Defenses in Fraud Cases

Some defenses I commonly see in healthcare fraud cases include:

  • Lack of intent – Claiming any rule violations were accidental or negligent rather than intentional.
  • Improper coding – Blaming billing errors on confusion over complex coding and documentation rules.
  • Reliance on staff – Contending they delegated coding/billing duties and were unaware of any improprieties.
  • Medical necessity – Asserting their medical judgment justified the treatment in question.

Poking holes in these defenses is a big part of proving fraud. Prosecutors dig for evidence showing the violations were no mistake.

Seeking Dismissal of Fraud Charges

As a defense attorney, my job is to protect my clients’ rights and seek dismissal of unjust charges. I carefully examine the evidence and look for weaknesses in the government’s case. For instance:

  • Lack of proof of intent to defraud.
  • Errors or omissions in the government’s audit methodology.
  • Exculpatory evidence not presented to the grand jury.
  • Procedural issues like statute of limitations or immunity agreements.

I’ve had charges dismissed pre-trial by persuading prosecutors they overreached. Thorough pre-trial investigation is key.

Negotiating Settlements in Fraud Cases

If charges cannot be dismissed pre-trial, my goal is negotiating an acceptable settlement. The government is often open to resolving cases without trial if it avoids litigation costs. Settlement options can include:

  • Repayment plans – Agreeing to repay overpayments over an extended time period.
  • Corporate integrity agreements – Implementing tighter compliance programs and outside monitoring.
  • Lesser charges – Pleading to reduced charges in exchange for cooperation.
  • Pre-trial diversion – Charges dismissed following a probationary period.

Avoiding the uncertainty of trial through settlement is often in my clients’ best interests. But I only recommend settlement if the terms are reasonable.

Bottom Line

Healthcare fraud allegations must be taken seriously. But not all billing errors amount to fraud. We carefully examine the evidence to build the strongest defense. For providers under investigation, experienced legal counsel is essential. I aim to resolve these cases fairly and efficiently. If you face Medicaid/Medicare fraud accusations in Central Florida, I encourage you to contact me for a free consultation. I’ll fight to protect your rights and your reputation.

Schedule Your Consultation Now