Houston Psychiatrist Convicted In PWC Fraud Scheme
On April 1, Houston psychiatrist Lewis Gottlieb was convicted for his involvement in a multi-million-dollar power wheelchair billing scheme uncovered last year. The psychiatrist defrauded Medicare and Medicaid of $16 million by approving hundreds of motorized wheelchairs for beneficiaries in return for kickbacks from wheelchair suppliers.
Indicted last September, Gottlieb pleaded guilty to executing a health care fraud scheme and receiving kickback payments between October 2001 and May 2003. He now faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison for the health care fraud conviction, five years for the illegal kickback conviction and another five years for the conspiracy conviction. Sentencing is set for June 24.
During last month’s hearing, Gottlieb admitted to signing hundreds of CMNs in exchange for $200 per certificate. The majority of beneficiaries Gottlieb approved did not qualify under Medicare and Medicaid guidelines to receive a power wheelchair. An extensive review of claims the DME companies submitted revealed that they fraudulently billed Medicare and Medicaid for power wheelchairs when, in fact, they provided a less expensive scooter – or nothing at all.
The case against Gottlieb was the result of a joint investigation by the FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Office of the Texas Attorney General. After the scam was uncovered, the government initiated Operation Wheeler Dealer, a massive crackdown on fraud and abuse of the Medicare power wheelchair benefit.
“Every taxpayer is victimized when government programs are abused,” said Michael Shelby, United States attorney for the Southern District of Texas. “[This] conviction is another step toward ensuring that our health care programs will be free from corruption and fraud.”
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