More Muslim health care fraud. Just one of many fraud rackets they specialize in.
Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) – A federal judge adjourned the case of a Pittsford psychiatrist charged with fraud on Friday.
Dr. Muhammad Cheema is accused of health care fraud and making false statements relating to healthcare matters. Prosecutors said he falsely reported the amount of time he spent with patients and some patients had to pay out-of-pocket for visits because they say Cheema stopped accepting insurance.
Defense attorneys asked for an adjournment so they can review the 10,000 pages of discovery handed over to them by the government. They also expect there will be more documents to review.
Since being indicted on the federal charges, Cheema has opened another practice to treat individuals with erectile dysfunction. The old sign at his office on Sully’s Trail in Pittsford is gone. It is now boasts the home of Wave Medical Group.
Cheema is scheduled to be back in federal court on Monday, February 11, 2019 at 10:30 a.m.
More on the charges: Pittsford psychiatrist charged with health care fraud
Cheema worked for Rochester Regional Health from 2004 until he resigned of his own accord in January 2017, according to a spokeswoman for the health system. He also worked for various nursing homes, which were not identified in the complaint. Cheema was licensed to practice in New York in August 2004, according to the state Department of Health.
Cheema also represented pharmaceutical companies between August 2013 and December 2016, according to the U.S. Attorney.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI and the state Department of Financial Services began an investigation after Excellus BlueCross BlueShield reported that Cheema allegedly changed office billing codes, billed phone appointments as office visits and regularly had 30 or more patients a day, despite office hours from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The complaint also alleges that Cheema was not board certified in psychiatry as he claimed to be in order to participate with Excellus.
The 18-page complaint described the video surveillance of Cheema’s office, his patient records, examination of his computers, video and audio from an undercover agent and interviews with patients of the practice from July 2012 through June 2018.
An audit by Excellus on eight patients over a six-month period in 2015 showed overpayment of 54 percent for services not provided and for improper coding of office visits. According to the charges, Cheema routinely billed the highest level of evaluation and management services for new patient visits, and his medical notes lacked the documentation to support the level of evaluation and management for established patients.
According to the FBI, an analysis of claims data from January 2013 to December 2015 showed approximately 81 days in which Cheema had more than 10 hours of billed office time for Excellus members alone. This analysis did not include billing from any other insurer.
According to the complaint, the FBI conducted video surveillance of Cheema’s practice on multiple days over several months. The complaint stated that Cheema falsely reported the time he spent seeing patients. The actual time spent with them was not long enough to get a medical history, perform a physical exam and psychotherapy necessary to support what he billed.
The FBI also used an undercover agent who wore covert audio and video equipment. The agent presented an Excellus insurance card and used cash for the copayment. The complaint alleged that at the first appointment, Cheema did not perform a physical exam or conduct psychotherapy but prescribed two medications. None of the six appointments lasted more than 20 minutes and Cheema did not do a physical or conduct psychotherapy.
In addition to his private practice, Dr. Cheema was paid over $855,000 by multiple pharmaceutical companies for 341 promotional speaking engagements and 62 consulting opportunities between August 2013 and December 2016.
In 2011, the Democrat and Chronicle investigated payments by pharmaceutical and medical device companies to Rochester doctors. According to the data, Cheema was the highest earner, receiving $221,304 from five pharmaceutical companies for speaking engagements, travel and meals.
Is Muhammad Cheema running another healthcare scheme? Pittsford psychiatrist accused of fraud opens new business to treat erectile dysfunction
A Pittsford psychiatrist charged with fraud has changed the focus of his practice. The old sign at Muhammad Cheema’s office on Sully’s Trail in Pittsford is gone. It is now the home of Wave Medical Group.
“It said the Wave Medical Group, but there was no group. Just the doctor and the receptionist,” said a man who had a consultation there.
On its website, Wave Medical Group offers shockwave treatments for erectile dysfunction. An ad in the paper caught the attention of a man who we are identifying only by the name “Ted.” Four years ago, Ted successfully beat prostate cancer but was left with ED as a side effect.
Ted describes an office in disarray. He said the doctor asked few questions about his medical history. “He brought in this little hand-held device he said was an ultrasound. I don’t know if it was or not,” said Ted. “The bottom line was that he said, ‘You’re a good candidate for this treatment.'”
Using this therapy for ED is controversial. We checked with a urologist, Dr. John Valvo of Rochester Regional Health.
“Most often, it involves several procedures twice a week for up to six to eight weeks,” he said. The therapy is delivered via a hand-held device through the skin.
The FDA has cleared the device for use in healing wounds, but not for treating ED.
“It’s not FDA-approved for this use. It’s not covered by insurance. It’s on a cash basis,” said Dr. Valvo.
Ted said the “hard sell” came even before he paid the $200 consultation fee. Even with a discount, the treatments would cost $4,000. It would all be paid in cash.
“It seemed like it was more like they wanted to sell you on this procedure, and that’s what it was all about: Getting you to sign up for it,” Ted said.
It wasn’t until after he left that he recognized the doctor as Muhammad Cheema, who now stands accused of billing insurance companies for work he never provided and falsifying a document to say he was board certified. The charges do not question the validity of his medical license.
Dr. Cheema’s name is not listed on the Wave Medical website. On paperwork given to patients, he uses his middle name: Dr. M. Azam Cheema. It doesn’t sit right with Ted.
“Maybe this isn’t the best idea in the world, to give him $4,000,” Ted said.
Maybe not…considering Cheema might be in jail soon.