(NaturalNews) At a cost of up to $15,000 a year, the antiretroviral drugs used for treating HIV and AIDS are a big money-maker for drug companies. But apparently they are also a good choice for corrupt doctors who are illegally trying to make a quick buck off the US Medicare system. A federal investigation has revealed that Dr. Suresh Hemrajani of Manhattan, NY, falsely diagnosed about 150 patients with HIV, and billed Medicare for $700,000 worth of phony prescribed treatments.
According to the New York Post, Hemrajani used a middleman to persuade people off the street to become his fake patients, whereby he proceeded to falsely diagnose them with HIV. Hemrajani then wrote the "patients" prescriptions for expensive HIV drugs, billed these drug costs to Medicare, and even invented fake follow-up visits that never actually took place in order to bill the system for even more money.
Besides the $700,000 gained by defrauding Medicare, Hemrajani's middleman allegedly helped the fake patients fill their phony prescriptions in order to buy them back and sell them on the black market for additional cash. Roughly 30 of these patients have been indicted alongside Hemrajani, according to reports, and many of them have since been sentenced to prison for their participation in the crimes.
"By taking advantage of a program intended to assist New Yorkers who cannot afford to pay for medical care, the defendant victimized not only the neediest members of our community but also all New York taxpayers," said District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., prosecutor in the case, in a recent statement.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Hemrajani pleaded not-guilty before the court, and is now being held at $200,000 bail. If convicted, he could face as much as 15 years in prison for his crime.
Last year, federal authorities ramped up a significant crackdown on Medicare fraud, which is estimated to cost taxpayers roughly $24 billion a year. More than 1,300 investigations conducted just in 2010 led to 500 Medicare fraud convictions totaling more than $3 billion (http://www.naturalnews.com/031488_doctors_me...).
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