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This is What Happens When Academic Radiologists Commit Medicare Fraud

After potentially years of processing fraudulent Medicare claims and a prolonged investigation, two radiologists finally plead guilty in federal court. Kenneth L. Rall, 82, the former chairman of the University of Missouri’s radiology department and Michael E. Richards, 65, who previously served as the University’s head of mammography, face up to 10 years in federal prison after collectively filing $190,000 in fraudulent Medicare claims.

Rall and Richards signed off hundreds of diagnostic images evaluated by resident radiologists that they never actually reviewed. In order to receive government reimbursement through Medicare, Medicaid, or Tricare for medical tests, a teaching physician needs to personally assess the interpretations performed by the resident physician. This July, Rall and Richards admitted to falsely preparing these medical records and filing subsequent billing statements to the federal government.

Throughout his career, Rall maintained a checkered reputation. In 1986, while employed by MU, he was convicted of a misdemeanor after embezzling money in a check kiting operation. He also faced felony charges for possible Medicaid fraud until the assistant prosecutor claimed to have lost the evidence. In 1998 he was rehired by the University’s radiology department, and in 2011, he was named Boone County Medical Society Doctor of the Year.

“This was not a hire we would make again,” Hal Williamson, former vice chancellor of MU’s health system told the Columbia Daily Tribune. Both Rall and Richards left the university in 2012 amidst the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation.

Although Rall’s base salary was $571,200 and Richard’s salary was $245,742, neither of these amounts factor in what they made from patient and insurance payments. According to the DOJ, this case was just a small slice of this year’s national health care fraud take down, which totaled $1.3 billion in false billings.

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