Louisiana Doctor Pleads Guilty to $56M Fraud

     (CN) – A Louisiana doctor pleaded guilty to federal health care fraud charges Thursday, admitting that he wrote false home health care certifications that were used in a multi-million dollar Medicare fraud scheme, the Justice Department announced.
     According to federal prosecutors, Winston Murray of Hammond, Louisiana, pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance to all three charges against him, including one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and two counts of health care fraud.
     Murray is the ninth defendant to plead guilty in this case. The trial for the remaining four defendants is scheduled to begin on May 6, 2015, the government said.
     At his plea hearing, Murray admitted that he operated a clinic in Hammond, Louisiana, from which he wrote home health care referrals for Medicare beneficiaries he knew were not confined to their homes.
     Murray further admitted that his referrals were used by home health companies Interlink Health Care Services Inc. and Lakeland Health Care Services Inc. , among others, to fraudulently bill Medicare for home health services supposedly rendered to hundreds of Medicare beneficiaries living in and around Hammond and New Orleans.
     Medicare records reveal that Murray’s certifications were used by Interlink and Lakeland to bill Medicare for more than $2.2 million in home health services that were not medically needed or were not provided, prosecutors said.
     From 2007 through 2014, these companies and other companies involved in this scheme submitted more than $56 million in claims to Medicare, a vast majority of which were fraudulent. Medicare paid approximately $50.7 million on these claims, the government said.
     Murray is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 12, 2015.

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