Supreme Court To Review Scope of Identity Theft in Medicaid Fraud Case

Tuesday, December 6, 2022
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 10, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would weigh in on what it means to commit identity theft.  In the case the Supreme Court accepted for review, the petitioner, a managing partner at a psychological services company, was convicted of Medicaid fraud in Texas in 2013. As the dispute comes to the Supreme Court, he's challenging a separate conviction under federal law that makes it a crime to use another person's identity while committing another crime (identity theft). Federal prosecutors maintain that using his patient’s name on a false Medicaid claim violated the federal statute. As a result, an additional two years were added to his one-year sentence for fraud.

Following the announcement, the justices released a one-sentence order to add the case "Dubin v. United States" to their merits docket for the year.  View the order here.


Does the Patient's Name Play a Key Role?


As the dispute comes to the Supreme Court, the convicted petitioner is challenging a separate conviction under federal law, making it a crime to use another person's identity in committing certain felonies such as health care fraud.  Federal prosecutors contend that using his patient’s name on a false Medicaid claim violated the statute, adding an extra two years to his one-year sentence for fraud.

In March 2022, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the trial court's decision, which included a flurry of concurring and dissenting opinions.  That ruling deepened an existing split among the circuits on the scale of the statute, leading the defendant to call on the Supreme Court to resolve the dispute.  Click here to view the opinion from the en banc U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.


What Constitutes Identity Theft?


The issue, in this case, is whether the government is correct that a federal identity-theft statute broadly applies to anyone who merely says or writes someone else’s name while committing a crime or requires an intentional misrepresentation of identity.  The defendant argued that the identity-theft enhancement applies only when someone intentionally lies about their or someone else’s identity as part of a crime, neither of which he claims he did.

The Supreme Court agreed to take up the case in short order, but it will likely be argued closer to Spring of 2023. So stay tuned until then for an update.


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Sources:

Amy Howe, Justices will review scope of identity theft in case involving Medicaid fraud, SCOTUSblog (Nov. 10, 2022, 4:13 PM), https://www.scotusblog.com/2022/11/justices-will-review-scope-of-identity-theft-in-case-involving-medicaid-fraud/

Hoover, Amy. "Supreme Court To Consider Conflict Over Identity Theft Law." Law360. (November 10, 2022. Web.


About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620


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12/6/2022

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