Nurses Sentenced For Defrauding Millions From Medicare

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Two nurse practitioners working in Montana have been sentenced after pleading guilty to trying to defraud Medicare of millions of dollars.

Janae Nichole Harper, 34, of Kalispell, was sentenced Friday to 12 months in prison while Mark Allen Hill, 54, of Edinburg, North Dakota, was sentenced to nine months.

Both will be placed on supervised release for three years after their release from prison. They were each ordered to pay restitution: Harper $4.3 million and Hill $5 million, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Montana.

Attorneys for Harper and Hill — Colin Stephens for Hill and Thane Johnson for Harper — didn't immediately return phone messages Friday.

They had both previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

In the scheme, Harper and Hill signed orders for orthotic braces used for body parts or joints that were prepared by telemarketers who had no medical training or certification, court documents show. From 2017 to 2019, they routinely signed these orders for Medicare beneficiaries regardless of medical necessity.

Harper and Hill each signed more than 7,000 brace orders, prosecutors said.

Harper's brace orders resulted in more than $8 million billed to Medicare, of which Medicare paid around $4.3 million. Harper was paid at least $94,395 for the orders she signed.

Hill's orders resulted in $10 million billed to Medicare, of which Medicare paid $5 million. Hill was paid at least $124,900 for the orders he signed.

Harper was a licensed nurse practitioner in Montana, Missouri, Nevada, South Carolina and Wyoming and was enrolled as a medical provider with Medicare. Hill was a licensed nurse practitioner in Montana, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Washington.

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 has said.