South Miami Top Biller Accused of Medicare Fraud
Asad Qamar, a Central Florida cardiologist and one of the country’s top Medicare billers stands accused of perpetuating a systematic Medicare fraud. The Medicare fraud allegations are the result of two separate lawsuits that both accuse Qamar of engaging in fraudulent activities such as bill padding, and unnecessary medical procedure performance. The suits, which were originally filed in 2011 and 2014, had previously been kept secret while the U.S. Department of Justice investigated the allegations in order to determine whether they should join the suits. The DOJ’s decision to ultimately join in the suit is somewhat unprecedented because the DOJ typically does not participate in cases unless they believe that there is a substantial chance of recovery. Pursuant to the Federal False Claims Act, both plaintiffs can receive money damages if a settlement is reached, or if they receive a ruling in their favor at the end of the trials.
The Medicare Fraud Allegations
Two suits brought against Qamar were recently unsealed by federal judges in Ocala and Tampa, Florida. First was a whistleblower suit brought by a Sarasota, Florida medical billing consultant. This plaintiff alleges that during 2008 through 2011, Qamar defrauded the state of Florida and the U.S. of “tens of millions of dollars.” The plaintiff asserts that the fraud occurred through the performance of unnecessary medical procedures such as heart catheterizations, which can sometimes result in life-threatening complications. It is also alleged that Qamar and his business, the Institute of Cardiovascular Excellence, billed the federal government for procedures that were never actually performed, and also recoded procedures so that they were billed at a more expensive rate than the actual procedure that was performed. Furthermore, it is believed that Qamar often waived the Medicare co-payment amount that patients were required to pay in order to deter questioning about why they were being encouraged to undergo so many tests, some of which the plaintiff believes were unnecessary.
The second complaint alleges that Qamar commonly performed tests that were unnecessary in order to receive high Medicare payments. Furthermore, it was alleged that the Institute would falsify records so that symptoms were included in patient records that would justify the need for tests that, in reality, were unnecessary. One of the most frightening allegations from both complaints is the suggestion that Qamar would perform unnecessary heart catheterizations, which involves the insertion of a flexible tube through blood vessels and into the heart so that nuclear images can be taken to determine whether blood is properly flowing within the heart and in the coronary arteries. This procedure is extremely life-threatening, and the first complaint further alleges that these heart catheterizations were performed without Qamar first obtaining patient histories, nor before checking lab results or performing patient examinations.
Though the lawsuits have been unsealed, it remains to be seen whether Qamar and the Institute will be found guilty of Medicare fraud. In fact, the Florida Department of Health has not as of yet found any evidence substantiating the claims, and the Institute has a clean disciplinary record absent of any pending complaints from the state of Florida. Medicare fraud complaints can be debilitating to a medical health care practice. As a result, if you need legal representation in a Medicare fraud suit or any other white collar crime allegations, contact South Miami criminal defense attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. for assistance.