Wednesday, August 13, 2008

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HOUSTON OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS FOR MEDICAID FRAUD SCHEME

HOUSTON A Houston-area occupational therapist was sentenced Tuesday in Harris County District Court to 15 years in prison for defrauding the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Albert C. Albert, 56, of Missouri City, pleaded guilty in May to first-degree felony theft by a governmental contractor for billing the government health care programs for services he never rendered.

According to state investigators, between February 1999 and February 2004, Albert’s occupational therapy clinics, Skillcare Rehabilitation Services and Nelbat Rehabilitation Services, received fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements totaling more than $170,000. In addition, Albert billed Medicare/Medicaid almost $55,000 for services dated after the death of 34 patients.

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Albert C. Albert

Investigators detected the fraudulent payments among almost $1.3 million paid to the occupational and physical therapy clinics operated by Albert. Interviews with 33 patients resulted in information showing that most of them never received the treatments alleged in Albert’s billings to the government.

Albert was indicted for first-degree felony theft last October. Harris County Assistant District Attorney Joni Vollman prosecuted this case.

In 2006 alone, the Texas Medicaid program cost more than $17 billion. As the state’s chief law enforcement official, Attorney General Abbott has dramatically expanded the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to save taxpayer dollars by rooting out Medicaid waste, fraud and abuse.

The unit has established field offices in Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, San Antonio and Tyler through authorization and funding from the 78th Legislature. It works with federal, state and local agencies across the state to identify and prosecute those who defraud the Medicaid program.