Cardiologist settles False Claims Act allegations for $7.3 million

posted on:
July 5, 2016

author:
Larry Golston

Dr. Asad Qamar and his practice, the Institute of Cardiovascular Excellence (collectively known as “ICE”), have agreed to pay $2 million and release $5.3 million in suspended Medicare funds, to settle alleged violations of False Claims Act (FCA). Moreover, ICE has agreed not to participate in any federal health care program for three years, followed by a three-year Integrity Agreement.

ICE allegedly performed medically unnecessary procedures on patients and then billed Medicare for those procedures. Additionally, ICE gave kickbacks in the form of waiving the Medicare copay. By waving the copay, ICE was able to persuade patients to undergo procedures that were medically unnecessary, and then billed Medicare for the unnecessary procedures.

In response to these allegations, U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III for the Middle District of Florida stated, “Patient safety is of paramount importance. When a doctor performs medically unnecessary and invasive procedures on Medicare patients, federal health care programs are defrauded and, more importantly, patients’ lives and well-being are recklessly put at risk. This case shows our office’s steadfast commitment to holding medical providers personally responsible for their actions.”

As a result of ICE’s scheme, Dr. Asad Qamar became the highest paid Medicare cardiologist in the country for 2012 and 2013.

The case against ICE was filed by whistleblowers, also known as relators, under the qui tam provision of the FCA, and the government intervened on Dec. 22, 2014. The qui tam provision permits ordinary citizens to step forward and become whistleblowers when they have knowledge of a person defrauding the Government. The FCA also provides incentives for citizens to become whistleblowers, which include 15 to 30 percent of the money recovered through the suit. In this case, the relators will receive $1,327,721 for their share of the settlement.

In recent years, the Government has used the FCA to crack down on Medicare fraud because Medicare fraud does more than steal money from a tax-payer funded program − it puts patients at risk

Are you aware of fraud being committed against the federal government, or a state government? If so, the FCA can protect and reward you for doing the right thing by reporting the fraud. If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, please contact an attorney at Beasley Allen for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. There is a contact form on this website, or you may email one of the lawyers on our whistleblower litigation team: Archie Grubb, Larry Golston, Lance Gould or Andrew Brashier.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice

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