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David Benowitz on How Healthcare Fraud Cases Are Treated

David Benowitz, a federal healthcare fraud lawyer in DC, answers questions about healthcare fraud cases and prosecution in federal and local court.

How Do Prosecutors Treat Healthcare Fraud Cases?

David Benowitz: With the rising cost of healthcare, I think prosecutors have taken a very harsh stance towards healthcare fraud. Particularly when Medicare and Medicaid are affected because the cost of those programs gets driven up, services gets more expensive, or the quality of service suffers. There isn’t as much money to put towards them because the system is being defrauded. So, I think government agencies and prosecutors take it a very seriously and will  prosecute aggressively.

Has There Been a Recent Increase In The Amount of Federal Healthcare Fraud Cases?

David Benowitz: Yes, I think so. I think because there’s so much more focus now on healthcare with Obamacare because of the amount of money that’s invested in the healthcare system. I think that the government is taking a much more aggressive stance towards it so that that leads to an uptake in the prosecution of these types of cases because there are more investigative resources and prosecutorial resources being promoted to them.

What Are Some of The Most Common Mistakes You See Individuals Charged With Healthcare Fraud Make?

David Benowitz: The most common mistake I see people charge with healthcare fraud make is trying to talk their way out of it. The bottom line is you cannot talk your way out of a healthcare fraud charge by sitting down and talking with a law enforcement agent. It’s just not going to happen. By the time a search warrant is executed, agents and prosecutors have formed a very strong belief that you’re involved in something illegal. It’s not like talking to someone when you get pulled off for a traffic ticket. You may be able to haggle with the police officer and say that you really didn’t run that stop sign in the hopes that that officer will let you off. It will not happen in that context in a healthcare fraud case. So, you shouldn’t try and do it. All you’re doing is making statements that could potentially incriminate you even if you don’t intend to incriminate yourself.

I’ve had a clients who have called me and said, I just gave a six-hour interview with the FBI. That is a mistake. There is no penalty for not speaking to a law enforcement agency or a law enforcement agent. Absolutely no penalty. Your best bet is to be quiet. That is the most common mistake I see people make. They engage in interviews with law enforcement when they shouldn’t.

When You’re Presented With a Healthcare Fraud Case For The First Time, What Do You Look at First?

David Benowitz: Well, at first with a healthcare fraud case, I’m trying to learn more about the business that our client is involved in because that’s usually what it’s related to. I’m trying to learn the specifics of how their billing is done, how their referrals are made, and about their systems for creating and getting paperwork approved. I’m trying to learn all of that and who the players are. In other words, who works at the company and what the relationship is between people at the company. Those are things I really try to learn first.

Of course, as I’m talking to my client, learning more just about them in general. I want to learn about their life, what’s going on in their life, and how that potentially affects their case. Those are the types of things I’m really trying to look for primarily.

Why Do Clients Choose To Work With You In Healthcare Fraud Cases?

David Benowitz: I like to think it’s because I work very hard at it. I think to the extent that you have success in these cases is the direct result of hard work and I work very hard. I’m very passionate about it and I love what I do.   I think when I talk to people about their case or if I’m talking to someone for the first time about potentially representing them, the fact that I’m a hard worker and the fact that I’m very passionate comes through. I think that’s why people choose to work with me.

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