Alleged Missouri wheelchair scheme takes in $2.3 million from Medicare

Saturday, December 17th 2005, 6:08 am
By: News On 6

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Two doctors and several businessmen have been charged in a multimillion-dollar scheme to bill Medicare for expensive motorized wheelchairs for patients who did not need or receive them, authorities said Friday.

Four men who owned or operated medical supply businesses were charged in a federal criminal complaint filed Monday and unsealed Thursday. They are accused of defrauding Medicare of more than $2.3 million.

Filing fraudulent Medicare claims for wheelchairs has become increasingly common in recent years. Reimbursements can amount to thousands of dollars per wheelchair.

``These defendants would visit nursing homes, apartment buildings and senior centers and recruit people to receive wheelchairs who didn't need them,'' said Don Ledford, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.

Authorities said that sometimes the patients did not need the wheelchairs. Sometimes they never received them, and other times they received inexpensive scooters instead.

Three of the suspects were arrested Thursday; two were released on bond. The other three were still at large as of Friday afternoon.