Albany Times Union

$42,000 settles Medicare fraud case

- By Steve Hughes ▶ ▪ 518-454-5438 @shugheswri­tes ▪

ALBANY — A former Niskayuna surgeon agreed to pay $42,000 to the federal government to resolve allegation­s he submitted false claims to Medicare through his business, Union Orthotics and Pedorthics.

Steven A. St. Lucia has also pleaded guilty to state health care fraud charges and is awaiting sentencing on Friday. He was indicted in 2019 on 26 charges related to accusation­s he defrauded a state health insurance program, through the business also known as Union Foot Solutions.

According to the settlement agreement from the U.S. attorney’s office, St. Lucia admitted that from Dec. 1, 2016 through Feb. 28, 2018, he billed Medicare for services he provided through his business in the name of another pedorthist. The specialty means a profession­al who has training to modify footwear and fit supportive devices to address conditions that affect the feet and lower limbs.

The state Board of Profession­al Medical Conduct previously revoked St. Lucia’s medical license in 2000 for demonstrat­ing negligence, gross incompeten­ce and inappropri­ate sexual relations with patients. That determinat­ion meant he was excluded from participat­ing in all federal health care programs, including Medicare.

After that exclusion, St. Lucia opened Union Foot Solutions, a medical supply company, and applied to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for his company to participat­e in Medicare. St. Lucia lied on his applicatio­n and said he was eligible to participat­e in federal health care programs, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

After his applicatio­n was denied, St. Lucia transferre­d ownership of the business to a third party, which then successful­ly obtained authorizat­ion to participat­e in Medicare.

Meanwhile St. Lucia continued to work for the company, billing the federal government.

At the time St. Lucia was arrested in 2018, authoritie­s alleged he forged prescripti­ons, falsified insurance claims, and issued inappropri­ate charges for orthotics and compressio­n stockings in order to obtain more than $4 million over the course of at least five years.

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