The owners of an Elizabethtown cancer clinic have paid $3.7 million to settle claims that they extended the period of chemotherapy for their patients to pad their bills to the government.
“To subject cancer patients to unnecessary treatments that are physically draining and emotionally stressful is utterly unconscionable,” said Patrick McFarland, inspector general of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
U.S. Attorney David Hale announced Tuesday that Elizabethtown Hematology Oncology PLC and its owners agreed to pay $3,739,325 to resolve allegations that they submitted false claims for payment to the Medicare, Medicaid and the military’s medical provider for extending the duration of chemotherapy infusion treatment to patients and inappropriately billing office visits for infusion therapy.
The settlement agreement says that owners Dr. Rafiq Ur Rahman and Dr. Yusuf K. Deshmukh from 2006 to 2013 unnecessarily and improperly extended the duration of chemotherapy infusion treatment times for their patients so they could make more money. It also says they and their clinic falsely billed for office evaluations of patients receiving chemotherapy.
“Manipulating treatment protocols and lengthening infusion times to increase reimbursement reflect an extraordinary lack of regard for patient welfare and the integrity of our health care system,” Hale said in a news release.
Some of the allegations emerged from a whistleblower lawsuit filed in 2011 by Dr. Ijaz Mahmood of Elizabethtown, who alleged the clinic, to inflate billings, developed written protocols that increased chemotherapy infusion times by a factor of three or more beyond what is generally recognized.
He said Deshmukh and Rahman gave patients the appropriate dose of chemotherapy, but diluted it and prolonged treatment for hours so that they could bill more to Medicaid and Medicare, which pay in part based on how long a procedure takes.
The government may still prosecute either defendant and they are subject to federal tax charges.
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