A Houston physician accused of more than $5.2 million in fraudulent home health care Medicare claims appeared in court Tuesday to present his case.
Dr. Ben Echols is accused by the federal government of prescribing home health care to hundreds of patients who didn’t need it, according to a report by the Houston Chronicle. The majority of those patients were never examined, the accusations claim.
Echols’ signature appeared on patients’ plans of care or 485 forms, according to the Houston Chronicle report. Those forms are never seen by Medicare officials. The requests in question came from two home health companies, Family Healthcare Services and Houston Compassionate Care.
The Houston Chronicle writes:
The owners of Family Healthcare, Clifford Ubani and Princewill Njoku, have already pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay kickbacks and 16 counts of payment of kickbacks to Medicare beneficiary recruiters.
A record kept by Family Healthcare and recovered from a storage facility by federal investigators showed how the company went to Echols after patients’ own physicians rejected Family Healthcare’s request to provide services. The company dubbed the record, a “Re-Bill Doctor Log.”
However, most of the patients – 204 – were referred by Echols for home health care services from Compassionate Care, the same company that paid him $103,400 to serve as “medical director,” a position that requires him to make sure the company is following proper health care protocol.
…Of the 352 patients approved for home health care services by Echols, 200 did not have an office visit with him beforehand.
And at least one patient he approved for care got it for 2½ years before he was seen by the physician.
As Echols left the courthouse Tuesday he declined comment, then added, “Except to say I am not the monster you think I am.”
View the original report.
Written by Elizabeth Ecker