A woman who administered fraudulent sleep studies at a Los Angeles clinic has just been sentenced to three years in prison. Anna Vishnevsky defrauded healthcare benefit programs out of $11.5 million by illegally recruiting patients for sleep studies. Vishnevsky has been ordered to pay over $2.7 million in restitution.
Vishnevsky’s conviction is the result of one of the many ongoing government investigations into sleep center fraud. Her company, Atlas Diagnostic Services, offered cash to healthcare program beneficiaries willing to participate in sleep studies. The defendant also offered illegal kickbacks to participants who agreed to recruit others.
As obesity becomes more prevalent in our country, sleep apnea affects more and more Americans. Sleep clinics have popped up all over the US to treat this condition, which can cause people to stop breathing during sleep and potentially die as a result.
The proliferation of sleep study centers has had an unforeseen consequence; numerous sleep clinics have massively defrauded Medicare and other healthcare programs by billing for studies that were either unnecessary or nonexistent. Now, regulators are cracking down on dishonest providers based in New York, California, and many other states.
Atlas Diagnostic Services is a perfect example of how sleep clinics can defraud the government and private insurers. After recruiting patients who had no medical prescription for sleep study tests, Vishnevsky and her accomplices billed health insurers for tests that had either never been carried out or never been evaluated by a physician. In its claims for payment, Atlas listed doctors that had not seen the patients. Even in the case of tests that had actually been carried out, Atlas billed insurers for additional tests that had never been performed.
According to prosecutors, “(Vishnevsky’s) criminal activity victimized not only the plans, but also plan participants recruited into the scheme, as many of them have been required to pay back fraudulent insurance claims submitted using their names (on penalty of losing their health insurance).”
Both Vishnevsky and her co-defendant Eddie Hernandez pleaded guilty to one count of healthcare fraud. Hernandez was sentenced to two years and a half in federal prison. A former driver for UPS, Hernandez was in charge of recruiting individuals to undergo sleep studies. A large portion of the patients he recruited were also UPS employees.
Whistleblower lawsuits usually initiate investigations into sleep center fraud. Medicare regulations for sleep tests are rather strict, and individuals with information about violations must come forward to protect both patients and taxpayers. In California, for example, the technicians performing sleep studies must have specific certifications issued by the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists. If you are aware of illegal patient recruiting or studies being carried out by non-certified individuals, you can file a whistleblower lawsuit that may lead to a substantial reward.
Sleep center fraud whistleblowers can receive up to 30 percent of any recoveries resulting from their information. Since the government is currently targeting sleep study scams, the Department of Justice will likely decide to investigate related whistleblower claims.
When the DOJ intervenes in a case, the chances of securing an award become much higher. If you have original information about sleep center fraud, contact a New York whistleblower attorney today.