ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – It’s being called the biggest national health care fraud takedown in history.
The Department of Justice announced more than 400 medical professionals across the country were involved in various health care schemes, one of them in the Capital Region.
One of them was local podiatrist Perrin Edwards who works out of his practice on Central Avenue.
He pleaded guilty this week for illegally charging Medicare and private insurance companies for procedures he never did.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced hundreds of healthcare professionals will be charged for fraudulent practices on Thursday.
“These defendants have defrauded taxpayers of approximately $1.3 billion dollars.”
“That’s not an innocent mistake. That was a willful violation of the law for personal gain. It’s unacceptable.”
Assemblyman John McDonald, also a licensed pharmacist, says healthcare providers have a duty to their patients and to the system.
“Fraud waste and abuse are all central elements to why the cost of health care has gotten so much higher.”
He says the real victim in the case is you, the general public who pays for healthcare.
“At the end of the day, we can’t spare to waste another dollar on health care.”
Over several years Edwards submitted fraudulent claims totaling upward of $147,000.
That’s why McDonald says a patient it’s important to look at your healthcare bill, even the charges to your insurance company and ask questions about anything you don’t understand.
“You can’t make heads or tails out of that bill. The average consumer just has no idea what’s going on.”
He’s glad this major takedown has happened and says it sends a strong message to any heath care professional.
“If you’re going to do the crime you’re going to pay the crime. Plain and simple.”
Sessions is also making that point very clear.
“We will find you we will bring you to justice and you will pay a very high price for what you have done.”
Edwards is facing up to 10 years in prison and will have to pay restitution to the insurance companies. He will be sentenced in November.