By Mary Johnson, editor
Medicare fraud appears to have taken a terrible new turn. A Michigan cancer doctor, Dr. Farid Fata, was charged with deliberately misdiagnosing patients with cancer in order to justify submitting $35 million in false claims to Medicare for intensive treatments like chemotherapy.
The case is the most patient-endangering and egregious that I’ve learned about in the 19 years I've been writing this newsletter for TSCL. Typical Medicare fraud involves dishonest providers who buy stolen or illicitly obtained Medicare ID numbers off the street, and then submit claims to Medicare for goods and services that were never provided. Fraudsters are investigated after Medicare claims auditors spot suspicious billing patterns.
But according to a story by Kate Pickert appearing on Time.com, "Medicare Fraud Horror," Fata appears to have been charged after whistleblowers who worked in his clinics approached federal authorities with information that he was potentially harming patients just to pad his profits. Pickert reports that investigators said one patient fell and hit his head at one of Fata's clinics. But before sending the patient to the hospital for treatment, Fata allegedly directed an employee to give the patient chemotherapy. The patient later died from the head injury according to the complaint.
TSCL has been contacting seniors over the summer to tell Congress to "Cut Medicare Fraud! Not Our Benefits!" That fight takes on added urgency with this new case. Take a look at the videos (links below) from ABC affiliate WXYZ in Michigan that broke the story about Fata and please forward them to friends. Let's put a stop to Medicare fraud. There could be a lot more at stake than just your benefits.
"Feds Arrest Dr. Farid Fata," Heather Catallo, ABC Affiliate WXYZ, August 6, 2013.
"Patients of Dr. Fata Hold Meeting," Julie Banovic, ABC Affiliate WXYZ, August 21, 2013.
"U.S. Prosecutor Asks Judge To Raise Dr. Fata Bond To $9 Million," Heather Catallo, ABC Affiliate WXYZ, August 12, 2013.
"Medicare Fraud Horror: Cancer Doctor Indicted For Billing Unnecessary Chemo," Kate Pickert, Time.com, August 15, 2013.