The U.S. government annually loses billions of dollars to Medicare fraud. It is the type of crime committed by people you know, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical staff who provide services and medications that patients do not need and then pocket the money.
A recent example occurred right here in Texas when a Dallas metro-area doctor pleaded guilty on Oct. 25 to a federal wire fraud charge for his involvement in a $54 million Medicare fraud scheme. Daniel R. Canchola of Flower Mound pocketed nearly $470,000 in kickbacks and bribes for prescribing unneeded and unprescribed medical equipment and cancer genetic tests to Medicare beneficiaries.
Telemarketing firms, health care vendors targeted beneficiaries
The crimes occurred during a nine-month period from August 2018 to April 2019 in which Canchola worked in tandem with telemarketing companies and health fair vendors. Telemarketers targeted unsuspecting Medicare beneficiaries who also became targets while attending health fairs.
These predators encouraged Medicare beneficiaries to agree to cancer genetic testing and receive medical equipment even though neither was necessary. Canchola then prescribed genetic cancer testing and durable medical equipment to patients he did not personally meet with, speak to or even treat.
Examples of durable medical equipment include hospital beds, canes, crutches, blood sugar testing strips, oxygen equipment and CPAP devices.
Sentencing is scheduled for March 15 at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas. Canchola faces up to 20 years in prison. In October 2019, the Texas Medical Board suspended Canchola’s license to practice medicine in the state.
Careers at risk
Medicare fraud remains a serious crime. Annually, many health care professionals put their careers at risk.