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Health Care Fraud: What You Should Know If You Are a Licensed Health Care Professional in the State of Florida. (Part 2 of 4)

February 14, 2013
Est read time: 5 minutes
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One of the most recent changes to the law in Florida as it relates to fraud and licensed health care professionals is Section 456.0635, Florida Statutes.  This law establishes a number of requirements and directs DOH and the appropriate Board not to license or renew professionals who enter pleas of guilty or nolo contendere to certain crimes.  I have set forth the entire statute below and bold faced some of the key language of the law that I will summarize more fully below the statute at the bottom of this blog page.

 

456.0635 Health care fraud; disqualification for license, certificate, or registration.—

(1) Health care fraud in the practice of a health care profession is prohibited.
(2) Each board within the jurisdiction of the department, or the department if there is no board, shall refuse to admit a candidate to any examination and refuse to issue a license, certificate, or registration to any applicant if the candidate or applicant or any principal, officer, agent, managing employee, or affiliated person of the applicant: 

(a) Has been convicted of, or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, a felony under chapter 409, chapter 817, or chapter 893, or a similar felony offense committed in another state or jurisdiction, unless the candidate or applicant has successfully completed a drug court program for that felony and provides proof that the plea has been withdrawn or the charges have been dismissed. Any such conviction or plea shall exclude the applicant or candidate from licensure, examination, certification, or registration unless the sentence and any subsequent period of probation for such conviction or plea ended: 

1. For felonies of the first or second degree, more than 15 years before the date of application.
2. For felonies of the third degree, more than 10 years before the date of application, except for felonies of the third degree under s. 893.13(6)(a).
3. For felonies of the third degree under s. 893.13(6)(a), more than 5 years before the date of application;
(b) Has been convicted of, or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, a felony under 21 U.S.C. ss. 801-970, or 42 U.S.C. ss. 1395-1396, unless the sentence and any subsequent period of probation for such conviction or plea ended more than 15 years before the date of the application;
(c) Has been terminated for cause from the Florida Medicaid program pursuant to s. 409.913, unless the candidate or applicant has been in good standing with the Florida Medicaid program for the most recent 5 years;
(d) Has been terminated for cause, pursuant to the appeals procedures established by the state, from any other state Medicaid program, unless the candidate or applicant has been in good standing with a state Medicaid program for the most recent 5 years and the termination occurred at least 20 years before the date of the application; or
(e) Is currently listed on the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s List of Excluded Individuals and Entities.

This subsection does not apply to candidates or applicants for initial licensure or certification who were enrolled in an educational or training program on or before July 1, 2009, which was recognized by a board or, if there is no board, recognized by the department, and who applied for licensure after July 1, 2012.

(3) The department shall refuse to renew a license, certificate, or registration of any applicant if the applicant or any principal, officer, agent, managing employee, or affiliated person of the applicant: 

(a) Has been convicted of, or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, a felony under chapter 409, chapter 817, or chapter 893, or a similar felony offense committed in another state or jurisdiction, unless the applicant is currently enrolled in a drug court program that allows the withdrawal of the plea for that felony upon successful completion of that program. Any such conviction or plea excludes the applicant from licensure renewal unless the sentence and any subsequent period of probation for such conviction or plea ended: 

1. For felonies of the first or second degree, more than 15 years before the date of application.
2. For felonies of the third degree, more than 10 years before the date of application, except for felonies of the third degree under s. 893.13(6)(a).
3. For felonies of the third degree under s. 893.13(6)(a), more than 5 years before the date of application.
(b) Has been convicted of, or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, a felony under 21 U.S.C. ss. 801-970, or 42 U.S.C. ss. 1395-1396 since July 1, 2009, unless the sentence and any subsequent period of probation for such conviction or plea ended more than 15 years before the date of the application.
(c) Has been terminated for cause from the Florida Medicaid program pursuant to s. 409.913, unless the applicant has been in good standing with the Florida Medicaid program for the most recent 5 years.
(d) Has been terminated for cause, pursuant to the appeals procedures established by the state, from any other state Medicaid program, unless the applicant has been in good standing with a state Medicaid program for the most recent 5 years and the termination occurred at least 20 years before the date of the application.
(e) Is currently listed on the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s List of Excluded Individuals and Entities.
(4) Licensed health care practitioners shall report allegations of health care fraud to the department, regardless of the practice setting in which the alleged health care fraud occurred.
(5) The acceptance by a licensing authority of a licensee’s relinquishment of a license which is offered in response to or anticipation of the filing of administrative charges alleging health care fraud or similar charges constitutes the permanent revocation of the license.
So here are some of my comments in general:
FIRST:   The Statute starts out saying “Health care fraud in the practice of a health care profession is prohibited.“   Pretty clear cut.  In Florida there is a low low tolerance for “health care fraud.”
SECOND:  Notice how in subparagraph (4) it also says ” Licensed health care practitioners shall report allegations of health care fraud to the department, regardless of the practice setting in which the alleged health care fraud occurred.”    It should be pointed out that this law when originally passed referred to “Medicaid fraud” only and was later changed to the more broader category of “health care fraud.”–this means that the statute applies to not just Medicaid fraud, but fraud as it relates to Medicare, insurance fraud, and other forms.
THIRD:  It is important to note that the statute requires a significant amount of time to have passed since the fraud violation before you can apply for licensure.
1. For felonies of the first or second degree, more than 15 years before the date of application.
2. For felonies of the third degree, more than 10 years before the date of application, except for felonies of the third degree under s. 893.13(6)(a).
3. For felonies of the third degree under s. 893.13(6)(a), more than 5 years before the date of application.
Last year, I sat in the audience during a public meeting of the Credentials Committee of the Florida Board of Nursing and watched a young woman plead with the Board to give her a license.  Apparently, she had just finished LPN school and wanted the Board to issue her a license.  The problem was that she was involved in a very very serious criminal matter involving Medicaid Fraud in South Florida and it was a felony of the first degree.  Because 15 years had not passed since she pled to the crime the Florida Board of Nursing was prohibited from approving the issuance of a license for her to be a nurse.
It is very important that those who are studying to become a licensed health care professional or move to Florida to obtain a license be aware that a criminal charge for “health care fraud” could possibly prevent you from obtaining a license.

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