2010-07-30 / Editorial/Opinion
Scam Uncle Sam And Go Right To Jail
The most recent arrests as a result of a Medicare scam at Solstice Medical on Beach 102 Street once again points to the fact that the extra money one can earn by signing for medical services that were never performed can land a person in jail for a long time. When the original arrests were made in early May, the only people taken in by federal investigators were those who worked at the Rockaway facility – the office manger, CEO and the people who paid off the elderly to sign on the dotted line. Last week, however, the other shoe dropped. In an early-morning roundup, the feds picked up some doctors and several of the elderly would-be patients, who earned up to $250 a month by certifying they had received medical treatments – mostly physical therapy – when those treatments were never needed nor provided. All of the patients are elderly Russian immigrants, who were targeted by the Russian-run business. They would be brought by van to the Rockaway office, provided with papers to sign, given a kickback and then warned to keep their mouths shut. Then, they were driven home. One of the arrested women was Valentina Mushinskaya of Far Rockaway. Over the past six years, she filed 3,744 Medicare claims, totaling $259,902. Of that total, the government paid her medical providers more than $140,000. During those years, Mushinskaya saw 107 medical providers, some of them legitimate, most of them, according to federal records, not legitimate. Those records do not show how much she earned for signing the phony medical papers over those years, but for just two months, March and April of 2009, she was paid $1,005 by Solstice. We are wondering, as we are sure everybody who reads about the scam and the arrests is wondering, how the feds could not have picked up the fact that this woman (and many others like her) had 3,744 claims in six years. That’s nearly 625 claims a year, nearly two a day during that period. There has to be a computer program that will kick out a person with so many claims, but perhaps there is not. Something must be done, however, to stop the fraud and cut the costs of Medicare. Some might smile and say that Mushinskaya and the others beat the system and should be admired. Those people should think again. They, and every other American, are paying for her gains.