A Plymouth man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to defrauding Medicare out of $74,000 by billing for personal care assistant services that were never performed.
B. Bennie Perkins owns and operates Healthcare Options, a home health care agency. Perkins, 58, admitted that he submitted false claims to the Department of Human Services, the agency that administers the state's Medicaid program, from January 2007 to February 2008.
Perkins pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Personal care assistance programs provide aid to more than 16,000 disabled and incapacitated Minnesotans every year, but the program's billing practices have come under scrutiny.
A state audit released in January uncovered fraudulent billing practices, and sharply criticized the Department of Human Services' billing and reimbursement process. The audit found that the cost of PCA services has more than doubled in the last five years with little oversight.
The Department of Justice reports that similar health care fraud cases are on the rise. In May, the agency created a senior-level task force to investigate health care fraud throughout the country.
Last year, the Department of Justice filed criminal charges in 502 health care fraud cases involving 797 defendants.