Little Rock Healthcare Fraud Defense Attorney
204 E 4th St
North Little Rock, AR 72114
Recent prosecutions of healthcare providers illustrate that the federal government has taken an increased interest in investigating Arkansas healthcare providers, especially those in and around Little Rock. If federal authorities reached out to you about an investigation into your practice, our Arkansas healthcare fraud defense lawyers can get to work immediately developing an effective defense strategy. Call 888-680-1745 now.
As a healthcare provider, one of your biggest risks is a healthcare fraud investigation. Even well-intentioned, honest providers can find themselves in the federal government’s crosshairs for errors or omissions that, while not intentional, still run afoul of the healthcare fraud laws. What’s worse, federal prosecutors will often suspect ill-intent or wrongdoing at the slightest sign of wrongful conduct. The result is that you can potentially find yourself defending against criminal healthcare fraud charges in federal court.
If federal investigators or prosecutors with the DOJ, DEA, FBI, or OIG contact you about an investigation into you or your practice, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel. What starts off as a few questions can quickly escalate into a full-blown fraud investigation if not handled strategically and appropriately. At Oberheiden, P.C., we’ve assembled a team of veteran Little Rock federal healthcare fraud defense lawyers to help our many clients defend their practices, their reputations, and their freedom. We have centuries of experience handling some of the most complex and high-stakes healthcare fraud investigations across the country and know what it takes to successfully resolve these cases in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
Civil Healthcare Fraud Investigations
When most people think of fraud, it usually brings to mind the objective of depriving another person of their property through intentional actions. And while some healthcare fraud claims require an intent to defraud, the government can—and does—pursue civil claims against providers who make mistakes that, while minor or inadvertent, run afoul of the various healthcare fraud statutes. At Oberheiden, P.C., our Little Rock federal healthcare fraud defense attorneys help providers avoid the crippling fines and program exclusions that can come along with a civil healthcare fraud investigation. Some of the most common types of healthcare fraud we handle include:
False Claims Act Violations
The False Claims Act is the leading federal healthcare fraud statute. While there are many aspects to the False Claims Act, in essence, it prevents providers from submitting false or fraudulent claims to Medicare or Medicaid for reimbursement. As far as civil liability is concerned, the question isn’t whether you intended to defraud the government, but instead whether you should have known about the errors. When considering whether a provider knew or should have known about an error, investigators look at your position, level of involvement, the frequency of the errors and many other factors. A violation of the False Claims Act can result in civil fines and other penalties. In some cases, it can also carry criminal liability.
If you, your practice or your business has been notified by the Office of the Inspector General that you are the subject of a False Claims Act investigation, contact Oberheiden, P.C. right away. Our Little Rock federal healthcare fraud defense lawyers have successfully represented clients throughout Arkansas and the United States who found themselves in similar situations.
While referrals are common in the healthcare industry, the federal government imposes strict rules regarding when referral relationships are appropriate. For example, the Stark Law prohibits physician self-referrals. More specifically, the Stark Law makes it a civil violation to refer a patient to another practice that you have a financial stake in. While Stark Law violations do not carry the possibility of criminal sanctions, the fines can be exorbitant. The Little Rock healthcare fraud defense lawyers at Oberheiden, P.C. can help you defend against allegations of improper referral relationships.
Billing and Coding Errors
The Medicare and Medicaid billing structures are extremely complex. For large providers, the sheer volume of patients makes it difficult to ensure that all submissions are complete and accurate. And for smaller providers, it can be an overwhelming burden to learn the complexities of the billing framework. In either case, it is not uncommon for honest providers to make billing errors or code procedures incorrectly. While this may seem understandable, it is not how the federal government sees these violations. If CMS or the OIG is asking questions about your billing practices or has opened an official audit, it’s time to reach out to one of the Little Rock federal healthcare fraud defense attorneys at Oberheiden, P.C.
Criminal Healthcare Fraud Investigations
While criminal healthcare fraud proceedings make up a smaller portion of the total cases than civil violations, they are undoubtedly much more serious. A conviction for a criminal healthcare fraud charge can result in a lengthy federal prison sentence, exclusion from government programs, and other professional consequences. At Oberheiden, P.C., our first order of business is determining whether the government is considering criminal charges and if so, doing everything we can to keep the charges civil in nature. We have extensive experience handling all types of Little Rock criminal healthcare fraud cases, including:
Healthcare Fraud and Conspiracy to Commit Fraud
Title 18 U.S.C. Section 1347 is the general healthcare fraud statute. Section 1347 defines healthcare fraud as executing or attempting to execute a scheme or plan designed to defraud a “healthcare benefit program” or to obtain “any of the money or property owned by, or under the custody or control of” a health benefits program through false representations. While primary charges of fraud require a showing that you made a misrepresentation, conspiracy charges may attach to the mere participation in another’s scheme to defraud the government. While unknowingly participating in a fraudulent practice is insufficient to prove criminal liability, the government is unlikely to take you at your word.
Healthcare fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud carry extraordinary punishments, including up to ten years in jail for each violation. At Oberheiden, P.C., we have successfully represented hundreds of clients under investigation for these serious charges. Often, we’ve been able to resolve the case before the government files formal charges.
Prescription Drug Fraud
The ongoing opioid epidemic has led federal investigators to heavily scrutinize all healthcare providers who prescribe, administer and dispense prescription medication. This means doctors, hospitals, hospice centers, pain management clinics, mobile clinics, and recovery centers are finding themselves at the center of a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation more than ever before. If agents with the Department of Justice or DEA knock on your door with questions about your practice, politely tell them you aren’t available to talk and immediately contact Oberheiden, P.C. to discuss your situation.
Kickbacks are a common focus of federal investigators. While referral relationships do not pose a problem when properly structured, an illegal kickback arrangement can subject you to criminal liability. Two of the most common federal statutes used to prosecute illegal kickbacks are the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act. Both of these statutes carry significant criminal liability –including time in federal prison—if you are convicted.
Fraudulent Medicare or Medicaid Claims
While the federal government takes providers honest mistakes seriously, it is especially aggressive when it believes that errors result from an intentional act of fraud. For example, submitting a fraudulent claim, billing for services that were not rendered, and upcoding or unbundling procedures to increase the amount of reimbursement can subject you to criminal liability.
If you are being investigated for Medicare or Medicaid fraud, contact the Little Rock federal healthcare fraud defense lawyers at Oberheiden, P.C. as soon as possible. Our firm has a successful track record of assisting clients charged with these serious allegations. In some cases, we have been able to resolve our clients’ fraud charges without our clients being found guilty of committing a crime or having to pay any civil fines.
The moment you learn you are under investigation for any type of healthcare fraud, your next move should be to contact a Little Rock healthcare fraud defense attorney. The more quickly you reach out to Oberheiden, P.C., the sooner we can get started reviewing the government’s allegations and developing a comprehensive defense strategy.
The Oberheiden, P.C. Approach to Defending Against Allegations of Healthcare Fraud
Healthcare fraud cases are in a league of their own and require the assistance of an attorney who does not only understand the pertinent laws and regulations but also the industry itself. At Oberheiden, P.C., we have centuries of experience investigating, negotiating, and litigating these claims. Over the years, we’ve set ourselves apart from other Little Rock federal healthcare fraud defense law firms in the following ways.
We Advocate Early and Aggressively
We don’t wait to see how the federal government’s investigation pans out before we act. We’ve learned that taking a proactive approach yields the best results. At Oberheiden, P.C., from the moment you reach out to us, we will develop a strategic plan to approach federal authorities in hopes of resolving your case, often without the filing of any criminal or civil charges.
We Focus on Eliminating the Possibility of Criminal Liability
At Oberheiden, P.C., we’ve handled thousands of federal cases, most involving allegations of healthcare fraud. We understand that your primary objective is to avoid any possibility of criminal liability. Thus, our immediate focus is always on removing any thought of criminal charges from federal investigators’ minds.
We Employ Comprehensive Defense Strategies
When you bring Oberheiden, P.C. onto your team, we will assign your case to a senior attorney. However, we don’t assign your case at random; we first conduct an in-depth assessment of the allegations and then thoughtfully consider which of our veteran Little Rock federal healthcare defense lawyers is best suited to defend your interests. From there, your attorney can tap into the vast resources of our other lawyers who may offer a different perspective or unique experience that enables them to develop a custom-tailored defense that has the best likelihood of success.
We Take the Case Outside the Courtroom to Protect Your Reputation
We’ve been doing this long enough to know that, while your freedom and financial standing are the primary concerns, your reputation is also critically important to your future. The media, often with incomplete information, lambastes those accused of healthcare fraud, dragging their name through the dirt while they are still presumed to be innocent. At Oberheiden, P.C., we routinely address concerns about slander and book news spots and other opportunities to correct misinformation about our clients.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are whistleblower’s allegations taken seriously?
Absolutely. The federal government is statutorily required to follow up on any evidence brought to them by a whistleblower. At the same time, allegations raised by a whistleblower are not always based in reality. This is because whistleblowers stand to receive significant compensation in the event a case results in a recovery for the government. Thus, whistleblowers will often make allegations in hopes that the case will quickly settle, providing them with a windfall. However, despite the suspect nature of these allegations, if you receive a whistleblower complaint, you must take it seriously. If you don’t, you run the risk of the federal government intervening in the case, at which point it will become a tremendous burden. If you recently learned that a whistleblower brought evidence of fraud to federal authorities, reach out to the Little Rock federal healthcare fraud defense lawyers at Oberheiden, P.C. today.
Which Little Rock healthcare providers are at the greatest risk of a healthcare fraud investigation?
In theory, all healthcare providers face the same risk of being scrutinized by the federal government. That said, those providers who handle a high volume of patients or submit a significant portion of their claims through Medicare or Medicaid tend to become the focus of a fraud investigation more often than other practitioners. Additionally, the federal government often focuses on particular providers, depending on the news cycle and other noteworthy cases being brought throughout the county. Currently, the following providers are seeing a higher rate of healthcare fraud investigations:
- DNA testing facilities;
- Drug rehabilitation facilities;
- Healthcare marketing agencies;
- Home healthcare agencies;
- Hospice providers;
- Mobile healthcare clinics;
- Outpatient surgical centers;
- Pharmacies; and
- Toxicologists and toxicology laboratories.
If you operate any of these facilities and believe that you are under investigation for healthcare fraud, you cannot risk remaining idle as the government builds its case against you. Reach out to the Little Rock federal healthcare fraud defense attorneys at Oberheiden, P.C., to discuss your situation as soon as possible.
What should I look for in a Little Rock federal healthcare fraud defense attorney?
Healthcare fraud cases are exceptionally complex and require a knowledge of both the applicable legal principles as well as the healthcare industry as a whole. When looking for a Little Rock federal healthcare fraud defense attorney, you should be sure to retain a lawyer who has specific experience successfully handling the very type of violations the government claims you committed. You also want to ensure that the lawyer you select has experience litigating cases and not just negotiating deals. This ensures that you will not feel compelled to accept a plea agreement based on your attorney’s lack of confidence in front of the jury. At Oberheiden, P.C., several of our senior attorneys used to work as federal healthcare fraud prosecutors. This gives us unique insight into how the government will build and present its case, which can be a tremendous advantage.
Contact Oberheiden. P.C. to Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Little Rock Healthcare Fraud Defense Attorney
If federal investigators recently informed you that you or your practice is at the center of a healthcare fraud investigation, contact the Little Rock federal healthcare fraud defense attorneys at Oberheiden, P.C., for immediate assistance. You can reach our Little Rock healthcare fraud defense lawyers at 888-680-1745 or contact us online. If a member of our team is not available immediately, we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.