Ric Francis/AP
City of Angels Medical Center, Los

Medicare Fraud Allegations Not New for Some in L.A. Homeless Scandal

August 08, 2008 06:52 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
One hospital official who was arrested for allegedly using homeless people to defraud Medicare and Medicaid has been in trouble with federal health officials before.

Double-Duping the Health Care System

Dr. Rudra Sabaratnam, one of the owners of City of Angels Medical Center, was arrested this week and charged with 21 counts connected to an alleged scheme in which homeless people were recruited for unnecessary medical treatment. Those accused allegedly submitted claims to Medicare and Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, for the unnecessary treatments.

Sabaratnam had been excluded from all federal health programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. A federal database said the exclusion period started in February.

HHS inspector general imposed the punishment after a United States District Court found that Sabaratnam and Robert Bourseau had violated the federal False Claims Act for improperly seeking reimbursement for services that didn’t relate to patient care at a San Diego psychiatric hospital. No patients were involved in that case.
Bourseau is also among those accused in the Los Angeles case, and has been suspended indefinitely from Medi-Cal participation.

Last month, the Ninth District Court of Appeals in California upheld a lower court’s ruling that Sabaratnam and Bourseau had violated the False Claims Act.

Medicare has been plagued with criticism that claims are not scrutinized well enough. In a recent investigation, the federal General Accounting Office created two fake companies, and then applied for Medicare billing privileges. Investigators submitted vague documents designed to arouse suspicion, but Medicare approved the fake companies.

The government found other examples of fraud including $93 million paid for fake Medicare prescriptions written by doctors who are actually dead.

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