Tuesday, April 26, 2016

California Podiatrist Sentenced to 3 Years for Federal Health Care Fraud for Upcoding, Providing Services Not Medically Necessary or Performed By Unlicensed Staff, and Altering Records

On April 15, 2016, a podiatrist Dr. Neil Van Dyck of Roseville, California was sentenced by United States District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine for committing healthcare fraud. This sentence came after a guilty plea on October 23, 2015.  

According to the plea agreement and court documents, Dr. Van Dyck was a California-licensed podiatrist who operated a podiatry practice in Roseville called Placer Podiatry. The issue in Dr. Van Dyck's case was whether the “spa”-like or routine foot care treatments were properly billed to Medicare, Medi-Cal, Tricare and other private insurers.  

The government and insurers alleged that Dr. Van Dyck falsely claimed that he performed more expensive procedures than he actually performed, or that the routine foot care that was provided was justified because of illness or symptoms that were not present. it was alleged that often the treatments were performed by unlicensed staff, sometimes when Dr. Van Dyck was not present at his practice. Additionally,  it was alleged that Dr. Van Dyck altered a single-use skincare patch by cutting it into pieces and billed Medicare for multiple applications. 

As typical in these cases, responses to audits are used to show scienter or criminal intent. The government alleged that in 2011, in response to a request for documents from an investigator for Medicare, Dr. Van Dyck altered patients’ medical records to justify his bills. Medicare, Medi-Cal, Tricare, and the private insurers paid Van Dyck over $1 million for his claims.  

There was a forfeiture component to this case.  Judge Burrell previously entered an order requiring Dr. Van Dyck to forfeit $1.2 million from a retirement account into which proceeds of the healthcare billing were traced. The date for a further restitution hearing is set for May 27, 2016.

Posted by Tracy Green, Esq.
Green and Associates
Office: 213-233-2260
Email: tgreen@greenassoc.com


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