A podiatrist blew the whistle on her Ohio employer for Medicare fraud, and said she felt like she was working on an “assembly line” while servicing her patients.
Dr. Barbara Petkovic said she soon became aware she was working on false claims and fostering illegal kickbacks and couldn’t be involved in the deception any longer, according to WKYC on Monday.
“It made me feel very uncomfortable,” Petkovic said. “I just felt it was wrong. I felt I was involved in it.”
After she blew the whistle on Mobile Medical, the company was taken to court and made to pay $4.5 million in restitution to the federal government. The case was settled in 2015 but was just recently unsealed by a federal judge this year.
Petkovic said she filed false claims on behalf of patients for special diabetic shoes even though they didn’t meet the standards. In addition, the company offered things like free dentures, eyeglasses, and hearing aids as a kickback to Medicare patients.
A similar Medicare fraud scheme involving a Brooklyn doctor saw him and four co-conspirators plead guilty this month to defrauding the government of $30 million. They too were billing patients for unnecessary medical services and buying patients off for their silence.
Petkovic’s attorney, Warner Mendenhall, said Petkovic hurt her career by speaking out, but did so because it was the right thing to do.
“It cost her her job. It really damaged her career but she came forward anyway and tried to make things right,” Mendenhall said.
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