NYC Doctors Allegedly Used Free Shoes to Lure Homeless Into Medicaid Fraud

Prosecutors charge that patients underwent days of unnecessary testing.

<a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AHomeless_in_Sugamo_2.jpg">Jim Fischer</a>/Flickr

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Nine New York City physicians and 14 other medical workers have been charged with fraudulently billing Medicaid $7 million dollars in expenses for homeless and poor patients whom they convinced to undergo unnecessary medical testing in exchange for free shoes, Reuters reports.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said in a statement: “These defendants allegedly exploited the most vulnerable members of our society and raked in millions of dollars by doing so.”

The doctors allegedly offered the “guinea pigs”—as the medical workers referred to the homeless and poor patients they recruited from shelters and welfare centers—a free pair of kicks if they produced a Medicaid card and agreed to have their feet examined. Prosecutors said that in some cases the patients underwent unneeded physical therapy, extensive testing that sometimes lasted days, and were given leg braces and other pieces of equipment they had no use for.

Daniel Coyne, deputy Medicaid inspector general for investigations, told Reuters that by getting the arbitrary testing, the patients’ actual medical problems could have gone untreated. 

If convicted, the doctors face up to 25 years in prison.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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