Columbia physician indicted for making false statements to Medicare

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A Columbia, Mo., physician has been indicted by a federal grand jury for making false statements relating to Medicare orders.

Jerry Joseph Bruggeman, M.D., 52, was charged in a 13-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

The federal indictment alleges that Bruggeman, a licensed physician, provided false statements regarding Medicare beneficiaries who received medical devices (such as braces) or genetic testing. The federal indictment charges Bruggeman with 13 counts of making false statements relating to health care matters. The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require Bruggeman to forfeit to the government $29,440, which represents his proceeds from the alleged offenses.

According to the indictment, Bruggeman contracted with a telemedicine company in Boca Raton, Florida, which maintained an online portal that aggregated the personal information of Medicare beneficiaries who had been solicited by marketing companies. The company created medical assessments and orders for these beneficiaries, then hired medical professionals like Bruggeman to “review” and sign orders for cancer genetic testing, pharmacogenetic testing, and durable medical equipment.

The federal indictment alleges that Bruggeman approved orders for medical devices for eight Medicare beneficiaries in March and April 2019. Bruggeman stated that he ordered the devices in each case based on his evaluation of the patient’s condition and determined that the device was “medically necessary and appropriate.” Bruggeman electronically signed a physician verification for each of the devices, indicating “By my signature, I am prescribing the items listed above and certify that the above-prescribed item(s) is medically indicated and necessary and consistent with current accepted standards of medical practice and treatment of this patient’s physical condition.”

In fact, the indictment says, Bruggeman never evaluated or assessed the patient’s condition, never determined whether the device was medically necessary and appropriate for the patient, and never determined whether the listed device was consistent with currently accepted standards of medical practice and treatment of the patient’s physical condition.

The federal indictment also alleges that Bruggeman approved orders for genetic testing for five Medicare beneficiaries between January and March 2019. Bruggeman asserted in each case that the test results were necessary to the patient’s medical management. He electronically signed an accompanying letter of medical necessity that stated he would “receive the test results to pursue care for the patient.” The indictment says, Bruggeman never treated the patients.

This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren E. Kummerer. It was investigated by Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General.

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