Waveney Blackman, the owner of durable medical equipment company WaveCare Health services, has been charged with one act of healthcare fraud for filing claims to Medicaid for products that were never purchased through her business. Blackman pleaded guilty to these charges after one month and has been sentenced to 42 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $9.4 million, the sum of WaveCare’s proceeds from fraudulent claims.
During the years of 2010 to 2016, Blackman filed multiple claims to Medicaid for incontinence products, wound care supplies, and other pieces of durable medical equipment that resulted in revenue of $9.4 million. None of these products were ever given to Medicaid clients or even requested by one. These fraudulent claims were filed by Blackman herself, along with the assistance of her employees through a WaveCare biller.
Within one month of being charged, Blackman signed a plea agreement that detailed the illegal actions taken, as well as the proceeds she received from them. The government has seized a Mercedes, seven properties, and money traced to two separate bank accounts, and the judge ordered Blackman to pay the total of $9.4 million WaveCare reportedly received in fraudulent claims. She will also be sentenced to 42 months in prison.
Blackman was actually only one of 601 people that were charged last summer during a nationwide crackdown on healthcare fraud. This nationwide effort has also resulted in cases against others involved in the durable medical equipment business, including defendants who allegedly schemed to gain more than $1 million in kickbacks and $2.5 million in fraudulent Medicare claims.
Both Blackman and the other defendants had their cases uncovered as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. This operation included 14 teams that were spread across 23 districts since 2007. During this time this force has been able to charge roughly 4,000 people that made approximately $14 billion in false claims.
John Hopkins defines fraud as, “any deliberate and dishonest act committed with the knowledge that it could result in an unauthorized benefit to the person committing the act or someone else who is similarly not entitled to the benefit.”. This can include misrepresenting the type of level of service one provides, billing information for these services, or seeking payment or reimbursement for services not rendered or necessary.
Looking forward, Blackman’s case is just one of many healthcare fraud cases that have been taking advantage of the health system and causing harm to those who require government support. If cases such as this continue, it is hard to say where it may lead and how big of a hit our government-funded programs will take. So, it is increasingly important that anyone with knowledge of fraudulent activities taking place within the healthcare system come forward to blow the whistle.
Those who are interested in gaining more information about cases like this, or who want to keep up-to-date on the latest legal proceedings, can check out the Newman & Shapiro blog and Whistleblower Help Center!