Nursing home optometrist gets 33-month sentence for overbilling

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An optometrist who served Georgia nursing homes faces a 33-month prison sentence for defrauding Medicare.

Jeffrey Sponseller, O.D., pleaded guilty to the false claims charges, and on Thursday received his sentence in a U.S. District Court in Augusta, according to local reports. The sentencing hearing lasted all day, and included testimony from investigators with government agencies such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

FBI Special Agent Paul Kubala said Sponseller once billed for doing comprehensive eye exams for 59 nursing home residents in three hours, including one person who didn't have eyes, according to local newspaper The Augusta Chronicle.

A CMS investigator testified that Sponseller most often billed under the code for comprehensive eye exams given for the first time to medically complex patients, but related documentation was not sufficient to support any Medicare payment.

The government is seeking about $500,000 in restitution, the Chronicle reported.

In another recent case related to nursing home eye exams, a Kentucky optometrist faces a False Claims Act lawsuit charging he grossly overbilled. 

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