Indian-American doctor to pay $400K to resolve fraud case

An Indian-American physician will pay $400,000 to resolve allegations that he and his clinics violated federal laws by billing a government insurance programme for vein injections and physician office visits performed by unqualified personnel.

Florida-based Ravi Sharma agreed to pay the amount to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act, the justice department announced on Monday.

As part of the settlement, Sharma entered into a three- year integrity agreement with the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The agreement requires Sharma to attend training courses provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and provides for an independent external review of his federal health care programme coding and billing procedures.

“Vein injections and other invasive procedures should be performed by appropriately qualified personnel,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart Delery.

“We will not tolerate those who put patients’ health at risk for their personal gain and convenience.”

Between 2009 and 2010, Sharma owned and operated clinics, including a weight loss facility, in the Tampa area.

He allegedly sent text messages to his office manager instructing her to perform varicose vein injections on patients when he was not in the office.

The government alleges that when Sharma was in the office, he performed unnecessary vein injections and unnecessary ultrasound imaging procedures associated with those vein injections.

At his weight loss clinic, unqualified personnel met with patients of the clinic, but Sharma billed those visits as physician office visits to Medicare.

The allegations covered by the settlement were originally raised in a lawsuit filed by Patti Lovell, the former office manager for Sharma, under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private parties to sue on behalf of the government for the submission of false claims and to receive a share of any recovery.

Lovell will receive $72,000.