Feds sue cardiologist who topped Medicare’s fee list

The Department of Justice (DoJ) is taking the reins in two lawsuits filed against a Florida cardiologist who made headlines in 2014 for billing Medicare $18 million in one year. The DoJ alleges he performed medically unnecessary interventions and paid kickbacks to patients.

In April 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services unveiled a public database that allowed users to review reimbursement made in 2012 to physicians who accepted Medicare beneficiaries. The top payment under cardiology exceeded $18 million. The New York Times reported at the time that the cardiologist, Asad Qamar, MD, and his facility, the Institute for Cardiovascular Excellence in Ocala, were already under “prepayment review.”

The DoJ announced Jan. 5 that it decided to intervene in two whistleblower suits filed against Amar and the institute. One lawsuit alleges that the physician and institute billed Medicare for medically unnecessary peripheral artery disease services and procedures. Another lawsuit claims that Qamar persuaded patients to undergo unneeded procedures by waiving Medicare’s copayment.

The whistleblower lawsuits were filed under the False Claims Act, which allows the government to intervene. One of the whistleblowers is identified as Holly Taylor and the other as “Doe.” The cases will be pursued by the Office of the Inspector General, the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.