“Health care fraud and kickback schemes burden our healthcare system, drive up insurance costs for everyone, and corrupt both the doctor-patient relationship and the medical profession itself. The members of this scheme treated injured workers and their spines as commodities, to be traded away to the highest bidder. This investigation should send a message to the entire industry: patients are not for sale.” (U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker)
In the city of Long Beach California three physicians and a hospital chief executive have confessed to their underhanded roles in a half-billion dollar kickback scam involving hundreds of patients with back problems.
Another day – another ridiculous, U.S. healthcare embarrassment, eh?
As an example, dozens of patients, who were never told by their own doctors that they were getting scammed, traveled hundreds of miles for medical procedures to Long Beach, when local hospitals near their homes could have performed the operations.
Once they arrived, the scam artists charged the patients’ insurance payers ten times more for spinal implant hardware than was fair. This resulted in the criminals raking in as much as $15,000 from each back operation.
A crook in a suit named James L. Canedo, the former Pacific Hospital senior finance officer from 1999-2013, as well as a chiropractor and two orthopedic surgeons, are all changing their “not guilty” pleas to “guilty” in a 15-year criminal scheme that paid unscrupulous doctors to refer their patients to Pacific Hospital, even if the hospital was not the appropriate facility for the specified care. Pacific would then routinely bill either the California Worker’s Compensation program, or the federal government, for millions of dollars a year. In fact, investigators have determined that this ethically bankrupt pack of lab coat hyenas stole nearly $600,000,000, by falsifying billing claims. That, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Canedo, age 63 from San Pedro, was convicted in early September of Conspiracy that involved money laundering and mail fraud; Paying/ Receiving Kickbacks involving a federal health care program, and Travel Act violations. He could get a 5-year state prison term.
Doctor Mitchell Cohen, an Irvine surgeon, is guilty of False Tax Return violations, by failing to report the illegal income he received. He received $1,600,000 illegally and faces 3 years in state prison.
Doctor Philip Sobol, another surgeon from Studio City, is guilty of Mail Fraud Conspiracy and violations of the Travel Act. Sobol received $5,000,000 in kickbacks and is facing 10 years in prison.
Doctor Alan Ivar, a Las Vegas chiropractor, is guilty of Mail Fraud Conspiracy, Money laundering and violations of the Travel Act. Ivar got $1,200,000 and can expect a 5-year sentence.
Are any of these idiots your doctor?
Michael D. Drobot, a former Pacific Hospital CEO, confessed to the long-running scam in 2014 and has cooperated with federal investigators, which is how the rest of these characters got caught. Federal prosecutors also report that Paul Richard Randal, a healthcare marketing agent from Orange, confessed to Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud, in an identical scheme involving Tri-City Regional Medical Center.
Randal was affiliated with both Pacific and Tri-City, and admitted he recruited doctors to take cash under the table from Tri-City. He faces a 5-year sentence. Federal prosecutors report their investigation – Operation Spinal Cap – involves dozens of other doctors: surgeons, orthopedic specialists, chiropractors, marketers and other medical professionals.
Funny. You won’t see any mention of this garbage behavior on either hospital’s shiny website. The last thing ‘healthcare’ wants is an educated public.
And these lab coat loons will spend less time behind bars than a street thug who robs a gas station.
The investigation is ongoing, and here’s a bit more: