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 surgeries.
“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 firm’s whistleblower 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 Claims Act.