Charges against podiatrists suggest fraud is afoot

Podiatrists in three states made headlines recently in cases involving alleged healthcare fraud and other illegal activity.

In Pennsylvania, authorities charged Aileen Gong, D.P.M., with cheating Medicare out of $480,000 in a five-year fraud scheme, the U.S. Department of Justice announced. Gong reportedly filed claims for services never rendered to patients and services supposedly performed when she was outside the United States. Further, prosecutors say Gong deliberately used someone else's Medicare number as a means of identification without lawful authority. If convicted of all charges, Gong faces up to 184 years behind bars and a fine of up to $3.5 million.

In Wisconsin, the DOJ filed a multifaceted civil complaint against Alan Balkansky, D.P.M., for allegedly defrauding Medicare, according to the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Prosecutors say Balkansky violated the False Claims Act by billing for services not provided and for routine foot care on behalf of patients ineligible for this benefit.

"A significant portion of Balkansky's practice was providing foot care services such as trimming toe nails and calluses, which are routine, nonmedical procedures for most individuals and therefore not covered by insurance," the complaint stated.

Balkansky reportedly churned patients, or had them return every 60 days for treatment. Medicare allows payment for routine foot care at this frequency only for patients with medical problems that make it unsafe for nonprofessionals to provide such care, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Further, Balkansky also allegedly failed to document claims for wound care and billed for physical therapy provided by massage therapists. But Medicare doesn't cover physical therapy by masseuses, Whistleblower Today noted.

Finally, an Alabama foot doctor who relinquished his medical license faces a 223-count indictment on drug-related charges, according to WBRC Fox6. Authorities investigated David Vance Robinson, D.P.M., after receiving reports that he wrote numerous prescriptions for drugs that treat conditions outside the scope of podiatric practice including pain, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Charges against Robinson include trafficking, obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and possession of a controlled substance, the station noted.   

For more:
- read the DOJ announcement
- here's the Journal Sentinel article
- see the Whistleblower Today article
- view the WBRC Fox6 article