A Pittsburgh area cardiologist was found guilty of two counts of healthcare fraud, involving more than $13 million in falsified insurance billing. Dr. Samirkumar Shah submitted the fraudulent claims to Medicare, Medicaid and several private insurance companies and received payments in excess of $3.5 million.
During an eight day trial, evidence was submitted to show that Dr. Shah, 56, offered External Counter Pulsation (ECP) treatments to patients in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and Florida for a variety of ailments, including obesity, migraines and erectile dysfunction. He advertised the ECP treatments as “the Fountain of Youth” and claimed they made patients “younger and smarter,” according to the Department of Justice.
ECP involves the use of a specialized bed equipped with pressure cuffs, which exert pressure upon patients’ lower extremities as a means to increase blood flow to the heart. Insurers only reimburse for ECP treatments for patients who suffer from disabling angina—or chest pain caused by decreased blood flow to the heart—and only when a physician supervised the treatment.
FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones called healthcare fraud a serious problem that impacts every American. “It takes critical resources from our health care system and increases health care costs for everyone. Dr. Shah’s disregard for safe patient care goes against the medical ethics he was to uphold,” Jones said.
According to the DOJ, evidence showed that Shah instructed his employees to indicate that every patient had disabling angina on billing sheets that were used to support false insurance claims. In some cases, Shah never even met patients and never reviewed ultrasound imagery before approving new patients to begin ECP. In addition to billing for ECP treatments that were not medically necessary and were not provided under direct physician supervision, Shah also double-billed insurers.
Contrary to health insurance requirements, ECP treatments routinely occurred while neither Shah nor any other medical doctor was present at his various locations. On one occasion, a patient experienced an adverse event during his ECP treatment and had to be transported via ambulance to the hospital.
U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said, “Health care fraud threatens the safety and integrity of our entire health care system. Doctors and medical professionals like Dr. Shah who issue false diagnoses, order unnecessary testing and fraudulently bill Medicare and Medicaid in effect steal from the most vulnerable in our community.”
Shah faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Click here to read more from the Department of Justice.