SoCal Doc Accused|of Medicare Fraud

     SAN DIEGO (CN) – A doctor and the owner of a medical supply company were arrested this week and charged with submitting $1.3 million in fraudulent Medicare claims for power wheelchairs, federal prosecutors said.
     Dr. Irving Schwartz, 67, of Yuba City, and Jose Melendez, 51, of Long Beach, owner and operator of Oceanside Medical Services, are charged with conspiracy and health care fraud. Melendez also is accused of witness tampering.
     Schwartz allegedly traveled to El Centro in search of Medicare patients, and wrote them prescriptions for power wheelchairs, “even though the patients did not need the equipment and could walk without assistance,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement announcing the indictment.
     “Schwartz collected a $300 cash kickback in exchange for each power wheelchair prescription,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. “One of Schwartz’s co-conspirators would then sell the power wheelchair prescriptions to Melendez, charging him $1,000 per fraudulent prescription.
     “Melendez, in turn, sold some of the power wheelchair prescriptions to other co-conspirators, charging an additional mark-up on each prescription. As the last step in the scheme, Melendez and other co-conspirator owners of medical supply companies, would submit the fraudulent prescriptions to Medicare for reimbursement, billing up to $5,865 for each power wheelchair. The indictment further alleges that Melendez attempted to persuade one of the co-conspirators to lie to federal agents, in an effort to hinder the Medicare fraud investigation.”
     If convicted, Schwartz faces up to 5 years in prison, and Melendez up to 20 years.

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