Indian physician pleads guilty to health care fraud in US

 An Indian physician today pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud and illegally prescribing controlled substance medications and for fraudulently collecting over USD 216,000 for services he did not provide.

New York: An Indian physician today pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud and illegally prescribing controlled substance medications and for fraudulently collecting over USD 216,000 for services he did not provide.

Sathish Narayanappa Babu of Chicago faces upto 14 years in prison on counts of healthcare fraud and illegally prescribing a controlled substance and a USD 500,000 fine.

However, under the plea deal with the government he could be behind bars for about nine years.

Babu, who had his medical license suspended after he was arrested earlier this year, remains free on bond and will be sentenced in January 2015 by US District Judge John Tharp.

He has to surrender his federal medical registration and is prohibited from writing any prescriptions or submitting any medical insurance claim for any patient.

Babu, 47, admitted that he illegally prescribed oxycodone and other controlled substances, and fraudulently billed a federal insurance programme approximately USD 500,000 and collected approximately USD 216,000 for services he did not provide.

He was arrested in February following an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He also agreed to forfeit approximately USD 126,000 that was seized when he was arrested, as well as three luxury automobiles.

Babu admitted that between November 2012 and December 2013, he issued multiple prescriptions for controlled substances to a patient who was actually an undercover agent, despite never having seen or examined the patient.

He also permitted unlicensed personnel associated with his medical practice to issue prescriptions to the patient.

During the same period, Babu submitted false claims to Medicare for services provided to the patient that were not rendered by Babu or another licensed medical professional.

He Babu also hired three foreign medical school graduates who were not licensed physicians in the US to conduct home visits and advertised these individuals as 'MDs' or doctors. Babu submitted medicare claims indicating that he personally conducted the patient visits and provided comprehensive medical evaluations that he did not actually perform.

Babu also maintained an office staff that he directed to order certain diagnostic tests for every patient, including ultrasound and autonomic nervous system testing even though such tests were not medically necessity.

He also prescribed controlled substances to patients who he had never seen or examined and permitted his unlicensed staff to fill out prescriptions and order refills for patients.