Medicaid fraud investigations have serious consequences. Unless handled properly, you can be charged with crimes that may result in lengthy prison sentences, heavy fines, loss of professional licenses, and exclusion from Medicaid and Medicare. You need an experienced advocate who will fight to protect your rights.
Here are some criteria you should consider when choosing a Medicaid fraud defense lawyer.
1. Beware of general practitioners. Many lawyers claim to handle Medicaid fraud cases but are really general practitioners. They may be criminal defense lawyers who spend 10% or 20% of their time on Medicaid fraud and the rest of their time on general criminal matters. Keep in mind that choosing a lawyer is like choosing a doctor. You would not go to a general practitioner for brain surgery. Do not go to a general practitioner for Medicaid fraud. The issues are too complex, and there is too much at stake.
2. Do not be frightened into paying high fees. Lawyers are well aware that members of the public fear government investigators, prosecutors, and the possibility of criminal charges. Many lawyers take advantage of this fear by charging excessive fees. Paying more money does not insure that you will receive quality work. You are entitled to a lawyer who charges reasonable fees commensurate with his expertise and experience.
3. Be sure you hire an experienced Medicaid fraud lawyer. A Medicaid fraud lawyer must have skills and experience in several different areas, including government investigations, criminal law, and very complicated Medicaid rules and regulations. Make sure your lawyer has each element of expertise you require.
4. Do not be coaxed into an office visit before the lawyer tells you his fee. Once in a lawyer’s office, you are a captive audience and may be intimidated into paying an excessive fee or, worse, hiring the wrong lawyer.
5. Ask the lawyer direct questions about your case. Tell your lawyer the things that worry you. Your lawyer is required to keep this information confidential, even if you ultimately decide to hire someone else. Give your lawyer the facts, and ask what your options are, before you hire him.
6. Be sure the lawyer has experience with the specific investigating agency. Medicaid fraud is investigated and prosecuted by a number of different agencies such as the Bureau of Fraud Investigation, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Office of Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG), the Attorney General, and the U.S. Attorney. Each office has different written and unwritten policies and procedures. Make sure your lawyer is familiar with the specific agency you are dealing with.
7. Ask who will handle your case. Make sure your lawyer will personally handle your case. Many lawyers refer your case to others, pass the case to a less-experienced lawyer in their office, or even have non-lawyer staff do most of the work. Your case is too important to be handed off to someone with less experience. When you retain John Howley, Esq. as your Medicaid fraud defense lawyer, you get John Howley, personally, on your case.