Tampa, Florida – On October 10, 2019, Teresa Johnson was sentenced to 5 years’ probation and another 4 months of home detention on her part to commit health care fraud. The 53-year-old Lecanto resident was responsible for her part in conspiring with a medical professional in the area. The court ordered Johnson to pay a $5,700 restitution to the health care programmes involved as part of only a portion of the defendant’s fraud proceeds.
Johnson operated a medical billing company named Tri-County Billing, which was responsible for mostly submitting fraudulent and false claims for three clinics owned by a now-deceased doctor. These clinics, located in Crystal River, Spring Hill and Celebration, were the sites where the doctor used to hire medical professionals to make more false claims that were submitted to various governmental health care programmes such as TRICARE, CHAMPVA, Medicare and Medicaid.
Johnson had worked for the deceased doctor in the past and several different capacities before the doctor-assisted her financially in opening up the now infamous Tri-County Billing. By April 2019 the doctor had filed for bankruptcy for his medical practice. After this, both parties would go on to perform unethical medical practices that included falsely billing federal health programs.
Many health care workers who were either not authorized or were even prohibited from billing medical services were hired. Johnson was directed by the, now deceased, doctor to bill the claims made by these medical professionals as if it was the doctor making these claims.
The medical professionals hired included a doctor who specialized in pain management who had been denied enrolment into the Medicaid and Medicare programs. Another example comes in the form of a doctor that was refused to bill of any federal health programs either directly or indirectly. Nursing practitioners were also hired to perform various medical services. The nurses were instructed to submit any claims as if it were performed by a licensed doctor. Both Johnson and the deceased doctor knew that these were false and fraudulent claims.
Assistant United States Attorney Kelley Howard-Allen was the prosecutor in the case that saw the involvement of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Veterans Affairs as well as the Medical Fraud Control Unit’s Florida Office as well as the Department of Defence.
Fraudulent billing does affect not only the insurance programs and government agencies but also the individual taxpayer as well. Every taxpayer is responsible for taking action against health care fraud and those that participate in it.