Government says private Medicare Advantage insurers must police fraud

Published: 2011-07-13 10:21:46
Author: Ben Wieder

  Medicare says it wasn't its responsibility to keep tabs on a Maryland podiatrist who was banned from the program in 2007 for fraud, then submitted more than $1 million in fake bills to Medicare Advantage insurers.

Dr. Larry Bernhard, a podiatrist from Gambrills Md., last week pled guilty to submitting hundreds of claims to Medicare Advantage on behalf of nursing home patients he did not treat. In one case involving a double-amputee, Bernhard submitted 18 bills—totaling $4,830—for foot care he never provided, according to a plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department.

Bernhard will be sentenced in November and faces up to five and one-half years in prison. He also could lose his medical license.

It was the second time the podiatrist admitted to defrauding the government-funded Medicare program.

In October 2007, Bernhard was ordered to repay more than $12,000 for falsely billing the government and was barred from participating in Medicare and Medicaid.  His name was added to the Health and Human Services Department’s list of nearly 50,000 names of physicians, nurses and other providers the Health and Human Services Department has banned from the public-funded healthcare programs.