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Former local clinic involved in massive sweep of health care, drug abuse fraud

SAVANNAH — A podiatry practice that used to have a clinic in Hinesville is among those charged in a recent action by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, MD, announced the action July 13, saying it was largest ever health care fraud enforcement action by the force. The announcement involved 412 charged defendants across 41 federal districts, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in health care fraud schemes involving approximately $1.3 billion in false billings.

Of those charged, over 120 defendants, including doctors, were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics.

Included among those charged was Atlantic Foot & Ankle, P.C., a physician practice previously operating at several locations in Georgia, as well as an owner of the practice, Melissa Robitaille, DPM.

Atlantic Foot & Ankle had offices in Hinesville, Savannah, Statesboro and Hardeeville.

According to a press release issued by Southern District of Georgia Acting Attorney General Jim Durham, the United States intervened in a civil settlement of a whistleblower suit filed against Atlantic Foot & Ankle and Robitaille. The plaintiff was not named.

The release alleged Atlantic Foot & Ankle and Robitaille submitted claims and received payment for services that did not qualify for payment by misrepresenting the services actually rendered.

The Courier called the Atantic’s Hinesville and national numbers trying to get comments. The Hinesville office’s voicemail was full and the national number is no longer in service. The Hinesville location appears to be vacant and available for lease.

The announcement said in the past fiscal year, the Department of Justice, including its Civil Division, has won or negotiated over $2.5 billion in judgments and settlements related to matters alleging health care fraud. In addition, HHS has initiated suspension actions against 295 providers, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

As part of this national enforcement action, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia announced the following enforcement actions:

* A criminal information against Sherry McCormick, alleging one count of health care fraud. Between 2013 and 2015, McCormick is alleged to have defrauded Medicare, Tricare and the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program of approximately $500,000 in fraudulent claims for medications that were not necessary and not prescribed by a doctor.

* Reached a civil settlement with Allcare Pharmacy of Lyons, totaling $175,000. Based on the actions of its former employee, McCormick, Allcare is alleged to have submitted claims and received payment for prescriptions that were not necessary and not prescribed.

* Reached a civil settlement with Ramachandra Paidi, MD, of Vidalia, totaling $303,950. Paidi allegedly submitted claims to Medicare and Medicaid for psychotherapy services for 24 hours or more of services in any given day.

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