Dr. Sri Wijegoonaratna Loses Medical License Due to Hospice Scam

"Nurse, prep this patient for hospice."EXPAND
"Nurse, prep this patient for hospice."

An Anaheim Hills physician has had his state medical license revoked because he was convicted in a $9 million health care fraud scheme.

Th e Medical Board of California accepted the proposal of Administrative Law Judge Marcie Larson that the license of Dr. Sri Wijegoonaratna be revoked effective today.

Wijegoonaratna and five other defendants have been prosecuted in federal court for their roles in the scam at California Hospice Care of Covina, where $9 million in bills were submitted to Medicare and Medi-Cal and $7.5 million was paid out for end-of-life care for patients who were not dying.

Owners of the hospice center were Sharon Patrow, 44, of Placentia, and her 69-year-old mother, Priscilla Villabroza. Patrow pleaded guilty in federal court in Los Angeles in October and faces multiple years in federal prison at sentencing next May. Villabroza was already serving a 4 1/2-year term at a federal prison in Victorville for running a separate health care fraud scheme when she was popped for the hospice care fraud. 

At his hearing before the medical board, Wijegoonaratna did not testify but he did submit court transcripts to show how his side of the California Hospice Care case was presented as well as documents regarding the grounds his lawyers will bring up on appeal. The physician claims he only ordered medically necessary wheelchairs and other prescriptions for his patients.

However, Larson advised the medical board that no matter what the doctor's arguments were in federal court, he was found guilty there.  Wijegoonaratna was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison to be followed by three years of supervised release (that he's serving now). He also must join the other defendants is paying millions in restitution.

Larson cited case law that allows the medical board to terminate a license once a doctor is convicted, explaining the board does not have to wait to see if he prevails on appeal.

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