Just when you thought you’ve heard it all, there’s this:
Dr. Farid Fata, an oncologist in Michigan, was sentenced to 45 years in prison for intentionally harming patients by administering chemotherapy treatments that were medically unnecessary. In court, as he was sentenced, the cancer doctor said he was driven by “power and greed” to defraud Medicare.
He faced 23 counts of criminal charges and a sentence of 175 years in jail, but agreed to the 45-year sentence in a settlement after pleading guilty to 16 of the charges against him. US Attorney Barbara McQuade agreed to the settlement noting it was close to a life sentence for the doctor who apparently just wanted to maximize Medicare payments.
A whistleblower uncovered the fraud by Michigan Hematology Oncology (MHO). Dr. Fata’s company billed $35 million in to years to Medicare, $25 million of it specifically for doctor’s services rendered. Angela Swantek applied for a job in 2010 at MHO but learned that the company was operating as what she described as a “chemo mill.” She filed a complaint that eventually led to the federal government pursuing the qui tam case in 2013.
Dr. Fata’s company, Michigan Hematology Oncology (MHO), billed $35 million to Medicare in just two years; of that amount, $25 million was attributed directly to the doctor’s services.
The types of services that were unnecessarily administered and billed for included: “deliberately misdiagnosing patients without cancer in order to justify expensive therapy; administering unneeded chemotherapy to patients in remission; administering chemotherapy to end-of-life patients who would not benefit from such treatment; fabricating other diagnoses such as anemia and fatigue to justify unnecessary hematology treatments; and distributing controlled substances to patients without medical necessity.”
Prior to the sentencing hearing, McQuade said this case is the “most egregious case of healthcare fraud” her office in the Eastern District of Michigan has ever seen.
If you or someone you know has information that may lead to uncovering fraudulent activity being committed against the government, you can contact Ross Begelman at Begelman & Orlow. We are knowledgeable, successful whistleblowing attorneys and we will review your information and advise you on how to proceed with your qui tam claim.