How can anyone, especially well-educated doctors, engage in such shameful conduct as alleged in this case? It just baffles me that some people are so driven by greed that they will cross any legal or moral boundary. I know this is true in the legal profession also, sadly. Apparently not everyone has the morality gene. Here are the relevant details from a story posted in the Los Angeles Times:
Two doctors led a $5 million scam in which mentally ill homeless patients were paid $100 each for unnecessary treatments that were fraudulently billed to Medicare and Medi-Cal. The doctors were arrested and charged with misdemeanor conspiracy, fraud and taking illegal kickbacks. If convicted, they each could face up to seven years in prison.
City prosecutors said homeless people were recruited and taken in a van from various parts of Los Angeles County to RSB Medical Group in the San Fernando Valley. The so-called patients were given abdominal ultrasounds and had blood drawn, regardless of their condition. In exchange, they received $100, authorities said. Investigators also said the blood was often dripped into open jars and packaged for sale.
The clinic allegedly charged the medical programs up to $1,000 per doctor for between 30 and 50 patients daily from December 2009 and June. Prosecutors estimate the scam bilked Medicare and Medi-Cal out of $5 million.
The charges were the latest in a string of patient recruiting scams that have cropped up in Los Angeles. Earlier this month, federal prosecutors charged more than 70 people accused of having ties to Armenian mobsters and trying to defraud Medicare of $163 million for services never provided.