Whistle Blowers File Suit Against Top Cardiologist For Defrauding Medicare
A whistle blowing ex-consultant to one of the country’s highest billing doctors and the director of a medical management company filed suit on behalf of the United States against Florida cardiologist, Dr. Asad Qamar. The two suits were joined against Dr. Qamar and his physician group, the Institute for Cardiovascular Excellence (ICE) in Ocala, Florida alleging that the doctor and ICE performed excessive and unnecessary peripheral artery interventions and related procedures on Medicare patients.
One of the suits also alleges that Dr. Qamar induced patients to submit to those procedures by waiving the standard 20% Medicare copay, regardless of the patient’s financial situation. Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Justice Department’s Civil Division said, “Performing medically unnecessary procedures puts patients at risk and contributes to the soaring costs of health care.”
She continued, “Today’s action evidences the Department of Justice’s efforts both to safeguard federal health care program beneficiaries and to protect public funds.”
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Cardiologist defends his exorbitant billing figures
A red flag was raised last year concerning Dr. Qamar’s billing when Medicare reported that he had received $18 million in payments from Medicare compared to the next highest billing doctor who received $6 million, only a third of Dr. Qamar’s payments. He argues that his higher payments are possible because his medical practice, which takes care of 23,000 patients, is able to handle certain procedures that would be performed only in a hospital setting.
“Just looking at the sheer volume of work and billings from a single physician is not a sign of wrongdoing,” he said in the New York Times of the controversy.
The lawsuits come under the whistle-blower provision of the False Claims Act which allows a private citizen to file suit on behalf of the government when the individual uncovers evidence that someone has defrauded the U.S. out of government funds. If the suit is successful, the Plaintiff can then share in a percentage of the recovery.
Whistle blowers saw major irregularities in Dr. Qamar’s practice
The ex-consultant who reviewed Medicare billing for Dr. Qamar noticed that the ICE physicians and Dr. Qamar waived Medicare copayments when undergoing costly procedures. She deduced that the waived payments were kickbacks to induce the patients to allow the high-priced procedures. She also noticed that, while only a small number of patients normally require surgery, nearly all of the ICE patients underwent a surgical procedure when only a diagnostic scan was warranted.
One of the lawsuits details an allegedly unnecessary procedure gone wrong. A patient diagnosed with a blockage in her heart received a stent in her leg and was actually scheduled for a second procedure on her other leg when she died from complications from the first stent.
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When tragedies like this occur in New York, the seasoned medical malpractice attorneys at The Sanders Firm are ready to file suit against the negligent parties on behalf of the surviving family. Based on the premise that a medical professional is sworn to “do no harm,” The Sanders Firm has successfully stood by its clients for decades securing millions of dollars in awards for medical malpractice and doctor negligence.
If you or a loved one has been injured or died due to unnecessary surgery or other form of a doctor’s negligence in NYC, including Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island or Long Island, our personal injury attorneys can help. We offer a free, no obligation consultation to determine whether your case is eligible for monetary damages, so call today toll-free at 1.800 FAIR PLAY (800.324.7752). Resources
- Health News Florida, Florida’s Mega-Millionaires of Medicare, http://health.wusf.usf.edu/post/fls-mega-millionaires-medicare
- Courthouse News Service, US Intervenes in Two Medicare Fraud Lawsuits, http://www.courthousenews.com/2015/01/07/u-s-intervenes-in-two-medicare-fraud-lawsuits.htm