According to the American Cancer Society’s annual report, in 2015 there will be an estimated 1,658,370 new cancer cases diagnosed and 589,430 cancer deaths in the US. For most people with cancer, finding out that they have the disease or that their cancer has recurred causes immeasurable anxiety and fear. Additionally, the fear of treatment, numerous doctor visits, uncontrolled pain, and repetitive tests will create an uneasiness that something bad will happen. And so it did for many patients.
According to court records, the scheme enabled the doctor to submit approximately $225 million in claims to Medicare over six years.
Now comes an unconscionable act. According to the Department of Justice, in 2014, Farid Fata, M.D., 49, of Oakland Township, Michigan pleaded guilty today for his role in a health care fraud scheme, admitting that he administered unnecessary chemotherapy to fraudulently bill the Medicare program and private insurance companies. According to court records, the scheme enabled the doctor to submit approximately $225 million in claims to Medicare over six years.
“At a time when they are most vulnerable and fearful, cancer patients put their lives in the hands of doctors and endure risky treatments at their recommendation,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Dr. Fata today admitted he put greed before the health and safety of his patients, putting them through unnecessary chemotherapy and other treatments just so that he could collect additional millions from Medicare. The mere thought of what he did is chilling. Thanks to the quick action of our partners, he was arrested and has now admitted his guilt.”
“It’s exceptionally distressing to see this kind of fraud committed by individuals in occupations that profess high ethical standards,” said IRS-CI Chief Weber. “When doctors commit fraud through their profession, it is not only a violation of the public trust but also a complete renunciation of their Hippocratic oath. Those who commit Medicare fraud are pick-pocketing from every American taxpayer.”
As a physician for the past 40 years, I know that the overwhelming majority of healthcare providers are caring individuals who are doing what is in the best interest of their patients. However, it is important that all members of the healthcare team be alert to all forms of unscrupulous behavior and individuals who steal from federal and state programs that place patients in harm’s way. When considering or questioning the role of whistleblowers, take note of this example. Who will speak up for the victims when their caregiver views them as piggy banks not patients? Qui Tam relators help protect the public from others like him. Thank you to the FBI, IRS, and Department of Health and Human Services for removing this “doctor without a conscience.” I am perplexed, though, as to why the nurse who filed a formal complaint with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs was informed that after a thorough investigation the case would be dropped. Perhaps the government should be more receptive, and aggressive when pursuing the merits of a relator’s complaint.
From Dr. Jerry Williamson