Doctors Accused of Offering Free Shoes to Defraud Medicaid

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28th Annual Brooklyn Tribute To Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hosted By BAM
Getty ImagesBrooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson speaks at a 2014 tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Thomson alleges that nearly two dozen health professionals defrauded the Medicaid program by offering poor and homeless people free shoes to get unneeded medical tests.
By Laila Kearney

NEW YORK -- Twenty-three New York City doctors and medical workers have been charged with running an insurance fraud scheme in which they persuaded homeless and poor people to get unnecessary medical testing with promises of free shoes, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Nine doctors and other employees of eight city medical clinics are accused of fraudulently billing Medicaid $7 million in expenses for patients recruited from homeless shelters and welfare centers from October 2012 to September 2014, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said in a statement.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-These defendants allegedly exploited the most vulnerable members of our society and raked in millions of dollars by doing so.%"These defendants allegedly exploited the most vulnerable members of our society and raked in millions of dollars by doing so," Thompson said in the statement.

The people targeted, referred to by the accused schemers as "guinea pigs," were given free footwear if they produced a Medicaid card and agreed to have their feet examined at one of the involved medical clinics, prosecutors said.

They were often taken to the clinics for physical therapy and tests including cardiograms that spanned hours and sometimes days, prosecutors said. Patients were also given medical equipment such as leg braces that they didn't need.

Daniel Coyne, acting deputy Medicaid inspector general for investigations, said the patients could have had actual and serious medical problems left untreated by getting the arbitrary testing.

The accused face up to 25 years in prison if convicted on the top count of enterprise corruption. A hearing in the case is set for May 19.
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