Florida Pathologist to Receive $4 Million in False Claims Whistleblower Case By Tod Aronovitz | 02/19/13 | 0 Comment

Florida whistleblower Alan Freedman, M.D., a pathologist who previously worked at the Tampa Pathology Laboratory, is being awarded over $4 million in a False Claims Act settlement valued at $26.1 million.

Dr. Freedman led authorities to uncover a Medicare fraud involving Steven J. Wasserman, M.D., the Tampa Pathology Laboratory (TPL), and TPL owner Dr. José SuarezHoyos.

Dr. Wasserman allegedly entered into an illegal kickback and referral business agreement with TPL in 1997.  This agreement essentially allowed Dr. Wasserman to pass off work performed by TPL as his own, for which he received over $6 million in payments from Medicare.

The government also alleged that Dr. Wasserman performed thousands of unnecessary skin surgeries called “adjacent tissue transfers” on Medicare beneficiaries. Further, Dr. Wasserman allegedly expanded the volume of skin biopsies he conducted for financial gain rather than patients’ medical necessity.

The settlement is based on allegations and does not determine liability.

Record Settlement in Florida Whistleblower Medicare Fraud

The $26.1 million settlement is the largest ever with an individual brought under the False Claims Act for the Middle District of Florida, according to the Department of Justice, and one of the largest involving an individual in U.S. history.

This lawsuit was brought to the attention of the Justice Department under the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act by Dr. Freeman as a result of his earlier work for TPL. Individuals who initiate fraud lawsuits (also known as qui tam lawsuits) that result in the recovery of funds by a government agency can receive an award of between 10 percent and 30 percent of monies collected.

Department of Justice and Health & Human Services Team Up on Medicare Fraud

The Wasserman settlement is one of many cases pursued under the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a federal initiative created by the U.S.  Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The Justice Department has recovered over $14 billion since HEAT was created in 2009.

Medicare Fraud and Whistleblowers

Healthcare professionals who are employed in a facility that is suspected of wasting or abusing federal funds (such as overcharging Medicare, or engaged in some type of Medicare fraud) can work with a whistleblower attorney to bring charges. The person with inside knowledge of inappropriate billings or expenses could be a bookkeeper, a financial executive, a doctor, or a nurse.

Whistleblower cases receive special confidential treatment from the courts during the early investigation period, until allegations can be verified. Charges typically become public only if and when the U.S. government finds sufficient cause and intervenes in the action.

ARONOVITZ LAW: Miami Whistleblower / Qui Tam Law Firm

The Miami, Florida qui tam law firm of ARONOVITZ LAW routinely works with Florida whistleblowers to document fraud against the government. Click on the link to read more about our Miami Whistleblower / Qui Tam law firm services.

Contact Miami whistleblower attorney Tod Aronovitz for a confidential discussion of your potential Florida Medicare fraud case.