Physician Pleads Guilty in $11 Million Medi-Cal Fraud Case
Dr. Surinder Singh Panshi, a physician who allegedly helped defraud Medi-Cal of $11 million, on Friday pleaded guilty in Orange County Superior Court to one count of conspiracy and three counts of tax evasion, the Los Angeles Times reports (Gottlieb, Los Angeles Times, 1/6). Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) in June filed 104 felony charges against 16 individuals who allegedly defrauded Medi-Cal of $11 million. According to the Office of the Attorney General, between 1997 and 2000, the defendants purchased 13 clinical labs in Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange counties that test blood and urine for physicians who treat Medi-Cal and Medicare beneficiaries. The labs allegedly "dramatically increased" their Medi-Cal and Medicare reimbursements through "fraudulent claims that involved the unauthorized use" of the names of more than 24 physicians and stolen Medi-Cal provider numbers. The labs allegedly submitted claims for services that they never performed and tested the blood of illicit drug users and homeless individuals "obtained via black market sources" to "manufacture a facade to mask their criminal enterprise." In addition, the labs often "billed and shut down quickly, leaving blood and urine specimens behind," the attorney general's office said (California Healthline, 6/28/02). In addition to Panshi, two other defendants who administered four of the labs involved in the case were sentenced. Biall Ahmed was sentenced to three years in prison, and Saeed Ahmed was sentenced to 16 months in prison. Panshi will face between 11 and 16 years in prison when he receives his sentence in May. The labs involved in the case were ordered to pay restitution of between $70,000 and $160,000 each (Los Angeles Times, 1/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.