Top Medicare biller of 2012 faces multiple lawsuits

Dive Brief:

  • Marion County, Florida, physician Dr. Asad U. Qamar, who was revealed in the Open Payments database as the nation's top Medicare biller for cardiology during 2012, is now the target of two whistleblower lawsuits.  
  • The lawsuits claim Qamar performed up to thousands of unnecessary medical procedures and paid patients kickbacks by waiving their Medicare co-payments to encourage them to approve more medical work. Last week, the US Justice Department announced it has joined the lawsuits against Qamar and his Institute of Cardiovascular Excellence.
  • In response, Dr. Qamar issued a video statement last week in which he emphasizes his institution's high quality of service and good outcomes, and denies wrongdoing. 
  • Dive Insight:

    Qamar's short video appeal to the public tugs at the heartstrings with numbers and facts that people care about: the lowest amputation rate in the nation for peripheral arterial disease​—28 per 100,000 patients—​and "free care" for indigent, uninsured and poorly insured patients. But while these things are important, Qamar would have done better to speak to how his institution bills Medicare appropriately. 

    The two lawsuits present a slew of compelling evidence against Qamar, so the case may be a difficult one for the medical group, especially given increasing evidence of systemic fraud. As the Ocala Star Banner points out, Medicare in 2013 had expenditures of about $554 billion, about 20% of the federal budget. One of lawyers quoted told news media that 10% of Medicare filings are fraudulent.

    Filed Under: Health Law
    Top image credit: Fotolia