Physician bilked Medicare, Medicaid of $6.9M

A Mississippi physician was convicted last week of bilking Medicare and Medicaid of $6.9 million and faces up to 125 years in prison, reports the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. The case was one of the largest involving healthcare fraud in the state's history.

Cassandra Faye Thomas, 54, was convicted on 10 counts in federal court on Friday. Thomas was accused of sending unskilled therapists into the homes of elderly individuals to provide them therapy, which Thomas would bill at full Medicare and Medicaid rates. The therapists claimed they would not get paid by Thomas unless they found patients on their own.

Medicare and Medicaid regulations require that such therapies be performed by a physician, or with a physician present. Mississippi law requires that therapists be licensed.

Between 2002 and 2004, Thomas billed for services through her now-defunct practice called Central Mississippi Physical Medicine, which operated clinics in Yazoo City and Flora.

"She preyed on Medicare beneficiaries," said U.S. Assistant Attorney J. Scott Gilbert. Thomas' attorney contended she was unaware of the regulations requiring her to be present during therapies.

Thomas faces sentencing on June 27.

For more:
- read the Jackson Clarion-Ledger article
- read the Becker's ASC Review article