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Montana nurse practitioners plead guilty in Medicare scheme

Montana nurse practitioners plead guilty in Medicare scheme

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Two nurse practitioners in Montana have pleaded guilty in a scheme to defraud Medicare by signing off on fraudulent orders for orthotic braces, federal prosecutors said.

Janae Nichole Harper, 34, of Kalispell and Mark Allen Hill, 54, whose address for participating in the Medicare program was in Cut Bank, entered their pleas Wednesday to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Hill lives in Edinburgh, North Dakota. Both Hill and Harper are licensed in several states, prosecutors said.

Harper and Hill worked with staffing and telemedicine companies from late 2017 into 2019 to sign unnecessary brace orders, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Montana said.

Hill was paid nearly $125,000 for signing about 7,100 orders that billed Medicare $10 million and for which Medicare paid $5 million. Harper was paid nearly $95,000 for signing 7,600 orders that billed Medicare $8.3 million and for which Medicare paid $4.3 million, prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris scheduled sentencing for July 27. Conspiracy to commit health care fraud carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Harper and Hill were among 345 people charged in a national health care fraud and opioid enforcement action. Those charged were responsible for submitting more than $6 billion in fraudulent claims to federal health care programs, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

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