A heart specialist in New Mexico was convicted last week of stealing money from Medicare – as well as numerous other insurance payers – by submitting fake medical bills.
You’ll have to wait a bit while we conjure up our shocked face. Whhaaahh!
Does any other group of professionals pilfer more cash than America’s errant physician population? Are you ready for the short answer?
Doctor Roy G. Heilbron, age 53, confessed in a Santa Fe courtroom that he did indeed submit false claims for medical services at his clinic. His confession – now here’s a surprise – popped out of his mouth just before he was about to stand trial on two dozen charges of grand theft.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, in cooperation with the FBI in Albuquerque, had all they needed to prove in federal court that Heilbron had routinely filed fraudulent insurance claims to not only Medicare, but other carriers too, such as Blue Cross of New Mexico, in a scheme that began in January 2010 and went on for a year and one-half.
One elderly couple who spend vacation time in Santa Fe, simply dropped by his office one day to see if he could take them on as new patients, in the event they might need a local physician. They discovered a month later that he had billed their insurance carrier $40,000 for their visit. Heilbron had created fake medical bills to support his imaginary care and 3 dozen treatments and tests on them – all in less that an hour.
The couple realized right away that something was smelly in Stinkyville, so they contacted the New Mexico State Medical Board. And Heilbron’s “let’s play doctor so I can get rich” scam was up.
The FBI discovered that Heilbron often defrauded the government’s medical insurance program, by performing unnecessary exams on new patients, and recording false diagnoses to justify them. He would make up imaginary patient symptoms on medical charts and even attach false ultrasound images.
Because a depressing amount of U.S. healthcare is . . . well, pretend healthcare.
Heilbron, who was supposedly a cardiologist before his turn toward crime, had already been spanked on the tushy by both the New Mexico and Florida state medical boards. And now he could get a 2-year term in federal prison when he is sentenced.
In keeping with U.S. healthcare’s vapid excuse for physician discipline, the Florida State Medical Board still lists this lab coat Whack-a-Mole as “a physician in good standing” on their website.
So go ahead. Gin up your own shocked face. We know you can do it if you put your mind to it.