A Somerset optometrist has been found liable for seeking payment from Medicare for more than 11,000 unnecessary eye examinations on nursing home residents.
A federal jury in Frankfort ruled Friday that Dr. Phillip Robinson's false claims defrauded Medicare of $419,075, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey.
"Dr. Robinson's scheme to defraud the taxpayers betrays the standards we expect of our health care providers," Harvey said. "His willingness to use many of our most vulnerable citizens to further his financial interests at the expense of our vital federally funded health care programs is particularly troubling."
Robinson's practice involved providing eye exams at nursing homes in about a dozen counties in Southern Kentucky, according to court documents and Harvey's news release.
Evidence showed that between January 2007 and January 2012, Robinson gave eye exams to nearly all residents of the facilities once a month regardless of their condition or need, Harvey said.
Prosecutors argued thousands of the exams Robinson's employer billed to Medicare were either unneeded, or that he spent so little time on the exams they were worthless.
There were 271 days when Robinson claimed he saw 50 or more patients in an 8-hour day, and 11 days when he claimed he examined more than 100 people, according to a court document.
One of Robinson's attorneys, Dan Thompson, said Monday that Robinson plans to ask U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove to review the jury's verdict, which he argues was not based on the evidence presented.
"Robinson has never changed his opinion that these services were and are medically necessary for the patients in the nursing homes," Thompson said in a statement to the Herald-Leader.
Thompson noted that the jury said Robinson was liable for a much lower dollar amount than the government claimed.
The jury ruled against Robinson after deliberating about three hours at the end of a five-day trial.
The complaint was a civil action to recover money, not a criminal charge.
Robinson worked at Associates in Eye Care, which submitted billing claims to Medicare based on his exams.
The practice agreed to pay $800,000 to settle the government's complaint against it, Harvey said.