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Lawsuit alleges Medicare fraud - Qui Tam Team

Lawsuit alleges Medicare fraud

 

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By Darren Meritz / El Paso Times

EL PASO — A chain of clinics and a kidney specialist defrauded Medicare by having unlicensed employees pose as doctors for dialysis treatments, according to a whistleblower lawsuit that moved closer to trial Wednesday.
But lawyers for the clinics said there was no fraud and no patient complained.

Rebecca Gonzalez, a former secretary for an El Paso clinic owned by Fresenius Medical Care of North America, claims the company allowed two unlicensed employees to pose as doctors and administer kidney dialysis treatment for years without the presence of a licensed physician.

Fresenius North America, which operates more than 1,500 dialysis clinics in the United States, owns the Cliffview and Gateway clinics in El Paso.

Gonzalez’s lawsuit also accuses Dr. Alfonso Chavez, medical director of the two clinics, and Larry Ramirez, the clinic manager at Cliff view, of devising a fraudulent scheme to bill Medicare for those dialysis treatments.

Gonzalez said Ramirez told her to obtain signatures from Chavez for Medicare claim forms, even though the work actually was performed by the two unlicensed employees. Gonzalez refused, according to her lawsuit.

The lawsuit stated that the two unlicensed employees, Ramiro Devora and Arturo Orozco, wore white lab coats, were addressed as doctors and conducted physical exams on patients. Devora would write prescriptions; Orozco would announce to the nurses that he was “ready to initiate my rounds,” the lawsuit stated.

Gonzalez filed the suit in 2006, and the FBI launched an investigation after she provided agents with details about the alleged fraudulent billing practices.

No arrests have been made, FBI officials said.

Read the whole article here

 
 
 

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