Dr. Asad Qamar, a cardiologist in Florida, along with his practice, the Institute of Cardiovascular Excellence, (hereinafter collectively referred to as “ICE”), have agreed to pay $2 million and release $5.3 million in suspended Medicare funds, to settle alleged violations of the False Claims Act (FCA). Additionally, ICE has agreed not to participate in any federal health care program for three years, followed by a three-year Integrity Agreement. It was claimed that ICE performed medically unnecessary procedures on patients and then billed Medicare for those procedures.
ICE also 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 it was reported that Dr. Asad Qamar was the highest paid Medicare cardiologist in the country for 2012 and 2013. The case against ICE was filed by whistleblowers (relators) under the qui tam provision of the FCA, and the federal government intervened on Dec. 22, 2014.
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