Florida’s Doctors and Health Care Continue to be Targeted by the Feds
After releasing Medicare payment data for the first time since the 1970s, the Justice Department is now joining in lawsuits against high-billing doctors, accusing them of fraud and illegal health practices.
The Medicare payment report indicated that the top 1% of 825,000 individual medical providers accounted for 14% of the $77 billion in billing recorded in the official data. Medicare paid 344 physicians and other health providers more than $3 million each in 2012. Collectively, the 1,000 highest-paid Medicare doctors received $3.05 billion in payments from the government. Proponents of the report claim this data will help identify doctors who over treat patients or perform more services than their peers, which in turn helps identify fraud and waste patterns by various doctors and medical specialties.
Cardiologist Tops the List
In Florida, the doctor receiving the most press for alleged fraud and billing of unnecessary procedures is cardiologist Dr. Asad Qamar of Ocala. The released Medicare data showed that he received $18 million from Medicare and was second among all doctors nationwide. The U.S. Department of Justice has now joined in two civil lawsuits against Dr. Qamar.
Whether Dr. Qamar ends up being found guilty of fraud and unnecessary medical procedures is not necessarily the point. Rather it is the broad, unfiltered reading of the Medicare data that is arguably problematic. It may be true that the newly released data helps identify fraudulent practices, but it comes at a price. The released information arguably provides a skewed version of the facts and ignores the complexities behind health care procedures, medical billing, Medicare, and a doctor’s discretion to practice medicine as he or she thinks is best. Because of gaps in the data and the records, a complete picture of doctor’s billing and medical decision-making patterns cannot be achieved.
The end result, unfortunately, is innocent physicians being subjected to unfair criticism and potentially career-ending lawsuits. There is a good chance fraud is a problem in the Medicare program, but even when a doctor is found not guilty of fraud or other billing abuses, the notoriety caused by such lawsuits would be extremely damaging to one’s reputation and result in a significant decrease in patients.
It is no surprise, however, that the Department of Justice is looking at Florida doctors. Healthcare fraud is being carefully monitored by both DOJ and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Florida even has its very own page archiving fraud cases in the news.
Knowing that the sunshine state is under the microscope of federal investigators for issues such white-collar crimes as health care fraud, Medicare, billing, money laundering, bankruptcy fraud, and computer fraud, it is vital you find an experienced attorney who knows his or her way around federal and state court.
Let Me Defend You Today
Do you need help in your case? Are you looking for a skilled attorney who can help defend you in federal or Florida state court? Please contact Attorney Tony Moss at the Tony Moss Firm, L.L.C. to discuss any defense matters. We have locations in Miami and Fort Lauderdale and are prepared to help you in any way that we can.