Corporate Compliance

Seattle doctor sent to prison for false claims

Compliance Monitor, January 11, 2005

A Seattle physician was sentenced January 7 to one year in prison and ordered to pay $1 million for falsely billing Medicare, Medicaid, and a state insurance program, the Seattle Times reported.

According a plea agreement reported in the Times, Vimlesh Ahmad, 58, pleaded guilty in October to one count of healthcare fraud. The agreement revealed that Ahmad often submitted claims at higher levels of service than what was provided and she sometimes billed for tests or office visits that never happened. For example, the Times reported, Ahmad previously billed Medicaid for three visits with a patient who was out of the state on the dates reported.

As a result of the agreement, Ahmad must permanently give up her license to practice medicine in the United States. Prosecutors sought this provision after their investigation determined that Ahmad prescribed controlled substances to admitted drug addicts for years while never doing much more than taking their blood pressure and temperature.

The $1 million penalty includes fines, restitution, repayment and civil damages--including double damages to Medicare and Medicaid, the Times reported.

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