Anesthesiologist Indicted for Alleged Role in $7 Million Telemedicine Health Care Fraud Conspiracy
Earlier today, in federal court in Brooklyn, Anna Steiner, an anesthesiologist, was arraigned on an indictment charging her with conspiracy to commit health care fraud for her alleged role in a telemedicine scheme to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare, Medicare Part D plans and private insurance plans. Steiner was previously arrested on a complaint in April 2019, and was arraigned this morning before United States District Judge I. Leo Glasser.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Brian A. Benczkowski, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Scott J. Lampert, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations (HHS OIG), announced the indictment.
“As alleged, Steiner claimed to provide telemedicine services to patients, but in reality, her telecare was a fiction and the claims submitted to Medicare unnecessary and fraudulent,” said United States Attorney Donoghue. “This Office and our law enforcement partners will continue vigorously investigating and prosecuting health care professionals who seek personal enrichment by stealing from a taxpayer-funded program.”
“Fraud against both public and private health care plans is not a victimless crime—the cost of doing business is ultimately transferred to members and taxpayers alike,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “More importantly, prescribing medication and medical equipment to patients for the sole purpose of turning a profit is not only unethical, it’s dangerous business. Today’s indictment is a victory for the FBI and our partners, the public at large, and those in the medical community who operate within the confines of the law.”
“When physicians boost their profits by billing federal healthcare programs for medically unnecessary services, the Office of Inspector General, along with our law enforcement partners, will thoroughly investigate such deceptive schemes,” said HHS-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Lampert.
As alleged in the indictment, telemedicine is a service connecting medical providers with individuals who receive healthcare benefits through real-time, interactive audio and video telecommunications. Beginning in approximately January 2015, Steiner and other medical providers purported to practice telemedicine pursuant to agreements with an entity identified in the indictment as “Company-1” and others, in exchange for kickbacks paid for each purported telemedicine encounter with a beneficiary. In fact, Steiner and other medical providers signed numerous prescriptions and order forms for durable medical equipment (DME) and drugs for beneficiaries, when the DME and drugs were not medically necessary and not the result of an actual doctor-patient relationship or examination. Suppliers of DME and pharmacies then submitted to Medicare more than $7 million in claims, on behalf of more than 3,000 beneficiaries, including residents of the Eastern District of New York. Medicare paid more than $3 million on these claims.
The charge in the indictment is an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force under the supervision by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. Trial Attorney Andrew Estes of the Fraud Section is in charge of the prosecution.
ANNA STEINER (also known as “Hanna Wasielewska”)
Valatie, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-295 (ILG)