Broward Health Heart Doctor Takes Pay Cut in the Midst of Whistleblower Probe By Tod Aronovitz | 01/26/15 | 0 Comment

Prominent Fort Lauderdale cardiologist, Dr. Michael Chizner, agreed to a new five-year contract at Broward Health which lowers his salary and loosens prior restrictions on the types of patients he must treat as he awaits resolution of a confidential whistleblower complaint. Dr. Chizner is the Chief Medical Director of the Heart Center for Excellence at Broward Health, a nationally-recognized health system that provides care—through the support of taxpayer dollars—to more than 80 percent of the poverty-stricken, uninsured and underinsured living in two-thirds of Broward County.

A recent article in the Florida Bulldog reported that Dr. Chizner signed the agreement in December in order to avoid termination in January. According to the story, his salary has been reduced from $1.2 million to $867,200, but this amount is not set in stone and will depend on his volume of work. In addition, the contract eliminated prior language that excluded his treatment of ‘indigent’ patients, which defeated the mission of Broward Health to provide a medical “safety net” for local residents.

Dr. Chizner’s revised contract is believed to stem from a continuing investigation by the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that is looking into a confidential whistleblower complaint alleging inappropriate business relationships between Broward Health and its physicians.

The lawsuit accuses Broward Health of being in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute—which prohibits the exchange of anything of value to induce or reward referrals or generate federal healthcare program business, and the Stark Law—which prohibits physicians from referring Medicare and Medicaid patients to a hospital when the doctor has a financial relationship with the hospital.

The investigation into Broward Health’s business relationships has been ongoing since May 2011 when federal authorities subpoenaed records in regard to the health care system’s business dealings with Dr. Chizner and 26 other doctors starting in January 2000. The district could face $100 million in potential civil liability, a dollar amount referred to by Broward Health Commission Chairman David Di Pietro in 2012.

In June 2014, Broward Health’s governing board approved a new physician compensation model, calling it “commercially reasonable.” The board also made other internal changes designed to service all patients, “without regard to a patient’s ability to pay for such services.” In addition to Dr. Chizner, other Broward Health physicians signed agreements that take into account the new approved changes.

Dr. Chizner’s prior earnings were more than twice the national average for “invasive-interventional” cardiologists. Although he will see a reduction in salary, Dr. Chizner will still be among the most highly paid heart doctors in the country.

How to Report Miami Medicare Fraud

Healthcare professionals or medical billing employees who have knowledge of questionable Medicare billing practices can file a confidential legal claim under the False Claims Act. By acting as a “whistleblower” in what is known as a “qui tam” lawsuit, a private party may collect up to 30 percent of the amount recovered, depending on how the case is prosecuted.

ARONOVITZ LAW: Miami Whistleblower / Qui Tam Law Firm

The Miami Qui Tam law firm of ARONOVITZ LAW routinely works with whistleblowers to document Medicare fraud and other forms of fraud against the government. Contact Miami Whistleblower / Qui Tam lawyer Tod Aronovitz to discuss your case.