In one of the largest-ever settlements with an individual
under the False Claims Act, a Florida dermatologist agreed to pay $26.1 million
to resolve claims that he accepted illegal kickbacks and billed Medicare for
thousands of medically unnecessary skin surgeries.
The Department of Justice agreed to the settlement with
Steven J. Wasserman, M.D., in a suit that got its start when a pathologist at a
lab involved in the kickback scheme filed a complaint under the whistleblower
provisions of the False Claims Act.
The United States later filed its own complaint, but the
original whistleblower, Alan Freedman, M.D., is entitled to more than $4
million of the settlement.
According to the Justice Department, Dr. Wasserman sent
skin specimens from Medicare patients to a Tampa pathology lab for testing. In
exchange for the referrals, the lab made it seem as if Dr. Wasserman had done
the work himself - and Dr. Wasserman then billed Medicare.
To feed this arrangement, the Justice Department alleged,
Dr. Wasserman targeted thousands of Medicare patients for unnecessary skin
"Doctors who take illegal kickbacks and perform
unnecessary procedures not only put their own financial self-interest over
their duty to their patients, they raise the cost of health care for all of
us," said Stuart F. Delery, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the
Civil Division of the Department of Justice.
The Employment Law Group® law
attorneys have helped many clients file suit against employers
that fraudulently bill the U.S. government, and have established
favorable precedents under the retaliation provision of the False
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