US settles health fraud case against SC physician

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The U.S. attorney in Columbia has settled a health care fraud case against a Myrtle Beach doctor accused of overbilling government-sponsored health plans for patients he'd not seen.

U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles says in a release the claims were filed against Dr. James Vest, who operates a trio of clinics in the Myrtle Beach area. Nettles says Vest settled for $325,000.

Nettle says his investigation began in 2010 after a whistleblower lawsuit was filed by a nurse practitioner in Vest's practice. The whistleblower will receive 20% of the settlement.

The release says Vest submitted bills to Medicare and Tricare for services actually provided by nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and the false billing allowed him to collect higher fees.

Vest did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

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