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15 Charged In NJ Imaging Kickback Scheme

December 14, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Medical Ethics, Practice Management
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How hard is the federal government cracking down on Medicare and Medicaid fraud? Tuesday morning, 65 federal and local agents and officers arrested 13 doctors and a nurse practitioner in New Jersey on charges of taking illegal kickbacks from a radiology clinic.

That’s a lot of man- and womanpower—especially for people accused of nonviolent crimes and presumably not likely to be armed and dangerous.

The inspector general’s office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) led the raids. Those arrested are charged with taking monthly cash payments to refer Medicare and Medicaid patients to Orange Community MRI of Orange, New Jersey.

Last week, the radiology clinic’s executive director, Chirag Patel of Warren, New Jersey, was arrested in connection with the same allegations. He is free on $750,000 bond.

New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said:

Patients have every right to expect their doctors will recommend medical service providers because they do the best job, not because they provide the best bribes.

Fishman was quoted in a news release from his office.

According to the release, the scheme apparently began last year. At the end of each month, the clinic would calculate how many tests had resulted from patient referrals by each of the people arrested on Tuesday. Depending on those totals, the suspects would be paid amounts ranging from $200 to more than $5,000 per month, the release said.

The U.S. attorney said that during the two months from early October through early December this year, 32 payments totaling $51,500 went from the clinic to the doctors and the nurse practitioner.

Tom O’Donnell, special agent in charge from the HHS inspector general’s office, said the initial tip about the scheme came from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“The audacity of these physicians should offend honest taxpayers, especially at a time when our taxpayer resources are stretched thin,” O’Donnell said in the news release. “We will continue to aggressively pursue all angles of Healthcare fraud.”

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Related seminar: The Business of Radiology


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