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Medicaid Reportedly Loses Over 1.5 Million Dollars from Russian Diplomat Scheme

Dozens of current and former Russian Diplomats and their spouses have been accused of committing Medicaid fraud in a criminal complaint filed in December 2013. The diplomats, which include employees of Russia’s consulate, employees of its mission to the U.N., and trade representatives, were among 49 individuals charged in a complaint unsealed in federal court in Manhattan. Though no arrests were made and only 11 of the diplomats and their spouses remained in the United States, the complaint said Medicaid, a health care program for the poor and disabled, lost about $1.5 million in the scheme since 2004.

The complaint alleges that the defendants submitted fraudulent applications for medical benefits for pregnancies, child births and care for young children. Federal prosecutors said the diplomats qualified for Medicaid benefits by underreporting their income, often by tens of thousands of dollars, yet were enjoying countless luxury amenities while in the United States.

In court papers, FBI agent Jeremy Robertson described an 18-month investigation, saying investigators had discovered a pattern of falsified applications. He said 58 of the 63 births attributed to Russian diplomats and their spouses in New York City between 2004 and 2013 were funded through Medicaid, which is largely federally funded but also includes money from state and local governments.

Robertson wrote that the diplomats and their spouses generally underreported household income to an amount below the applicable Medicaid eligibility level, and some of them lied about the citizenship status of their children to obtain continuing health coverage for them.

Meanwhile, the diplomats and their spouses spent tens of thousands of dollars on vacations, expensive jewelry and designer clothing at luxury retail stores including Bloomingdale’s, Tiffany & Co., Jimmy Choo, Swarovski and others, the court papers said. The complaint said they also spent tens of thousands of dollars on electronic merchandise at Apple Inc., bought concert tickets, robotic cleaning devices and chartered helicopters.

Charges in the criminal complaint included conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to steal government funds and make false statements relating to health care matters.

“Being a diplomat does not give you the right to commit health care fraud,” said George Venizelos, head of the FBI’s New York office, he added, “The defendants selfishly took advantage of a health care system designed to help the unfortunate and should be punished.”

Common penalties for Medicaid fraud include monetary fines, disqualification, garnishment of wages, and even criminal prosecutions. If you or a loved one have been charged with Medicaid fraud, the consequences you may face can be severe. As a result, you should immediately contact an experienced Medicaid attorney to receive the representation you deserve.

 

Medicaid vs. Medicare 101

Although Medicaid and Medicare provide essential services for our loved ones and thousands of Americans, many people either do not know the specifics of each program or simply do not know the difference. Well not anymore! Provided below are the basics everyone should know when dealing with these two aid programs and a basic layout of their differing eligibility requirements, coverage, and funding.

Medicare

Medicare is a federally funded and administered program that provides health insurance for individuals older the age of 65, individuals with disabilities, or individuals with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Its coverage includes: inpatient services from a hospital or nursing facility, outpatient services, doctor visits, and preventive care, prescription drug costs, or a combination of these services. Most seniors are automatically enrolled when they turn 65, yet those that are disabled are required to contact their local Medicaid office if interested in being enrolled, however cost is not distinguished by qualifying factors but rather is the cost depends on the “level of coverage” assessed.

Medicaid

Medicaid is a federal and state program that is administrated by the state government with the purpose of providing coverage for low-income families. Its coverage includes: hospital and nursing care, certified pediatric and nurse practitioner services, access to federally qualified centers, as well as access to rural health clinic or birth centers licensed by the family’s state. All of those who wish to receive Medicaid benefits must apply within their state office in order to become eligible and costs depend on the income of each family.

Can A Person Qualify for Both Medicare and Medicaid in New York?

Individuals may be dually eligible for both programs. In many of these cases, Medicaid will cover Medicare premiums or co payments for the services covered under Medicare. This allows for effective and comprehensive health coverage.

Contact an Attorney

If you believe you qualify for Medicare or Medicaid and wish to receive benefits, or if you have been previously denied coverage, contact an experienced New York Elder Law Attorney. A skilled attorney can analyze your situation, discuss your options with you, and help ensure your legal rights are protected.