Another Indian-immigrant physician - this one in East Amherst New York on May 25 - has changed his "Not Guilty" plea to 'Guilty" in a pathetically common case of doctor-healthcare-fraud.
Doctor Sreekrishna Cheruvu, age 61, confessed in U.S. District Court to routinely submitting false billing claims to private insurance companies over at least a 4-year period that began in 2011. He was first arrested in 2014, after the police raided his Williamsville clinic and confiscated volumes of fake medical billing records.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, Cheruvu was working as a drug addiction counseling physician in Amherst when he developed the habit of submitting false claims to numerous insurance providers, including BlueCross/BlueShield of Western New York; Univera Healthcare and Independent Health, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported. His total theft amounted to about $200,000.
“Perpetuating fraud on the healthcare industry drives up the cost for everyone, including taxpayers who fund government health care programs and all who contribute directly to their own health care costs.” (U.S Attorney William J. Hochul Jr)
Specifically, Cheruru would typically see opioid-addicted patients in groups of 8-15, but then bill insurance payers for the more lucrative, individual counseling sessions. Investigators discovered the doctor was so bold that he would bill for patient care even when he was on trips out of the country.
Cheruvu was ordered to pay $500,000 in fines and will be sentenced in early September.
Here's another look at the case: