Caldwell Optometrist Charged in Federal Indictment
BOISE – Christopher Card, 59, of Caldwell, Idaho, was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury in Boise for execution of a scheme to defraud health care benefit programs, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. Card is a licensed optometrist in the state of Idaho.
The indictment alleges that from as early as September 1993, through August 31, 2010, the defendant executed a scheme to defraud health care benefit programs, including Idaho Medicaid, Medicare, Blue Cross of Idaho, Regence BlueShield of Idaho, and the Rail Road Retirement Board (RRB), of more than $1 million in health care benefit program reimbursements, by making material false statements, and by submitting material false, fraudulent, and fictitious claims for reimbursement to these health care benefit programs.
The indictment alleges that Card fraudulently billed health care benefit programs, especially Medicaid and Medicare, for false diagnoses, including glaucoma, acquired color deficiency (color blindness), tension headaches, macular degeneration, treatment of eye injuries and removal of foreign objects from the eye.
The indictment further alleges that during January 1, 2004 through May 8, 2009, Card treated only 3.9% of Idaho’s Medicaid clients. Nevertheless, during that same time, compared to the total of all other Medicaid providers in Idaho, Card diagnosed 86% of all Idaho Medicaid diagnoses of chronic angle closure glaucoma, 52% of all Idaho Medicaid diagnoses of primary open angle glaucoma, 92% of all Idaho Medicaid diagnoses of glaucomatous atrophy (optic cupping), and 99% of all Idaho Medicaid diagnoses of acquired color deficiency. The indictment alleges that for patients diagnosed with glaucoma, Card routinely alternated his fraudulent glaucoma diagnoses on the same patient from angle closure glaucoma to open angle glaucoma, or in reverse, even where the patient did not have glaucoma and had not received any treatment.
The indictment also alleges that in late 2008, Card learned about the federal investigation from an employee interviewed by investigators. At that time, he stopped billing for virtually all services and testing related to glaucoma and other specific diagnoses and he significantly increased billing for services and testing related to tension headache, pain in and around the eye, optic atrophy, punctate keratitis, and nonexudative macular degeneration.
The charge of execution of a scheme to defraud a health care benefit program is punishable by up to ten years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General.
An indictment is a means of charging a person with criminal activity. It is not evidence. The person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
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