According to a news release from the New York State Inspector General, a licensed hearing aid dispenser and owner of Syracuse Hearing Aid Centers LLC, in Syracuse, NY, was recently arrested on charges that he operated a criminal scheme in his insurance billing practices.
According to the Inspector General and local news reports, the business is alleged to have fraudulently billed more than $1.6 million by selling public employees custom fit earbuds, but then billing the state insurance for hearing aids, which are worth more than 3 to 10 times as much. A grand jury indictment charged Joshua Miller with first and second-degree grand larceny and first-degree healthcare fraud.
It has been reported that in the course of an investigation, the New York Inspector General’s office discovered that between May 2012 and December 2014, Miller solicited hundreds of state employees with promises of “hi-tech” earbuds or electronic hearing protection devices with no out-of-pocket expenses. The individuals who came to Miller’s office reportedly ordered earbud styles from a selection of products that were marketed for gaming and music. After being fit with the devices, Miller used Syracuse Hearing Aid Centers as a front for billing United Healthcare insurance at $3,000 per ear—the maximum amount allowed for a hearing aid under the Empire Plan for NY state employees.
The investigators discovered that most of the state employees that came to Miller’s office had been solicited by a corrections officer who recruited his coworkers in the prison system, as well as the Upstate Medical University hospital. Miller is said to have paid the officer nearly $70,000 in referral fees. Fraudulent charges of hearing aid fittings for relatives of those seen at Miller’s office were also discovered, when in fact, no devices were ever provided. A total of 575 allegedly fraudulent claims were billed through United HealthCare, amounting to $1.65 million dollars.
Miller was recently arraigned on the indicted charges and sent to the Onondaga County Jail. According to the Inspector General’s office, further arrests are expected of those who may have also knowingly been involved in the fraudulent billing scheme. For additional information, please see Brian Taylor’s News Watch blog post about the case at HearingHealthMatters.org.
Source: New York State Inspector General, CNYCentral.com, Syracuse.com
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