Iowa doctor admits making Medicare claim false statements

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A Webster City doctor has pleaded guilty in federal court to making false statements in Medicare claims.

Federal prosecutors for Iowa say 76-year-old Joseph Latella pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of making false statements relating to health care matters. Prosecutors say Latella operated a private practice in Webster City and served as the medical director for several nursing homes, at the time of the offense.

Prosecutors say Latella falsely declared he had spent more time with patients than he actually had at two nursing homes to qualify for more expensive billing to Medicare and Medicaid. In total, Latella admitted that over a four-year period starting in 2014, he submitted 1,140 false claims to be paid nearly $108,000 by Medicare and more than $9,200 by Medicaid. Latella has agreed to repay those amounts as part of his plea deal.

He faces up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced at a later date.

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