Nice Work if You Can Get it

     HOUSTON (CN) – A Houston doctor billed Medicare and Medicaid $850,000 for sham inner ear tests, including 800 alleged tests on a single patient, federal prosecutors said.
     Dr. Emmanuel Nwora, 48, was arrested Monday based on a 13-count indictment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
     Charles Harris, 52, of Houston also was charged, as Nwora’s purported accomplice.
     “The indictment alleges that from 2007 to 2010, Nwora and Harris falsely billed Medicare and Medicaid under vestibular diagnostic codes,” prosecutors said in the statement. “They allegedly billed Medicare and Medicaid approximately $850,000 and were paid approximately $390,000.
     “Vestibular problems are traditionally inner ear problems with the patients reporting chronic dizziness and balance problems.”
     Nwora ran a clinic in Houston called Houston Optimum Care Medical Association. Harris operated Cevine Health Care and Rehabilitation Center in Houston, prosecutors said.
     The men billed one patient’s Medicare number for more than 800 tests in one year, and others patients’ accounts more than 500 times, prosecutors said.
     “According to the indictment, Harris would send unlicensed persons into Medicare beneficiaries’ homes to perform some types of vestibular testing,” prosecutors said. “Harris allegedly would then submit ‘superbills’ to Nwora and his billing contractor for this testing. The indictment indicates that patients reported either that none of the testing was performed or that some form of testing was performed but not in the quantity that was actually billed.”
     The patients said they had not complained of dizziness, and did not need the testing, prosecutors said.
     Nwora allegedly kept 35 percent of what he billed the agencies, and gave Harris the rest.
     If convicted, Nwora faces up to 130 years in federal prison, 10 years on each count, and a $250,000 fine.
     Harris, who also goes by Celestine Nwajfor and Okechi Nwajfor, is on the lam, prosecutors said.

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