In one of the most shocking cases of Medicaid and Medicare fraud to date, a Michigan-area cancer doctor is accused of a $35 million billing scheme involving claims of intentional misdiagnoses, unnecessary cancer treatments and violations of the naturalization process. In its original August 6th filing, the Department of Justice named Dr. Farid Fata in its Complaint and stating that “[t]he conduct alleged today is chilling….” Over the past several weeks, additional details have emergedresulting in an additional indictment and 13 more charges ranging from the receipt of illegal kickbacks to fraud in the citizenship process. Dr. Fata has remained in state custody for the past six weeks on a $9 million bond, despite his attorney’s contention that there is no proof fraud took place and his client has saved hundreds of lives.
Details Emerge in Case Against Cancer Doctor
The case against Dr. Fata presents a level of medical fraud beyond what is typically prosecuted by the Department of Justice. As explained by U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox, a typical healthcare fraud case involves either overbilling for treatments actually rendered or billing for treatment never rendered. In this case, as stated in a DOJ news release, it is alleged that Dr. Fata intentionally diagnosed healthy people with cancer thereafter prescribing them with treatments that were “essentially poison.” Judge Cox went on to conclude that, pending the outcome of the case, Dr. Fata presents a risk of danger to the community and should be prohibited from practicing medicine, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The case against Dr. Fata has divided his still-operational practice known as Michigan Hematology Oncology Centers. On one side, cancer survivors and supporters of Fata are fiercely advocating his innocence, appearing at court proceedings donning signs reading “Dr. Fata saved our lives!” In extreme contrast are those former patients who endured unnecessary chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, proclaiming “I’m totally shocked, because I trusted this man implicitly. I trusted the lab reports.” Furthermore, Family members of Fata’s patients are concerned that his diagnoses may have resulted in their loved ones’ hastened death.
Doctor Accused of Ordering Unnecessary Chemotherapy and Radiation
According to the DOJ’s complaint, Fata billed more than $150 million for cancer services since 2009 and collected $65 million of that amount. The DOJ alleges that these services included chemotherapy for end-of-life patients who had no chance of survival – essentially putting them through the rigor of intense cancer treatments for no medical reason. Other patients having successfully beaten cancer were prescribed additional chemotherapy treatments despite having no cancer cells present in the body. One patient, who did not have cancer, endured 155 unnecessary rounds of chemotherapy, as stated in the story linked above.
“Dr. Fata allegedly perpetrated a brazen and dangerous fraud that time and again jeopardized his patients’ wellbeing….with the defendant endangering patient safety through misdiagnoses, over- or mis-prescription of chemotherapy and other treatments, and delay of hospital care for patients with serious injuries. Through the work of our dedicated prosecutors and agents, today we have taken swift action to safeguard patient safety and hold the defendant to account.”
Fata, who became a U.S. citizen in 2009, also stands to lose his citizenship if found to have been engaging in crimes against the United States during the naturalization process.
As a Whistleblower, You Never Know Who You Might Help
This particular case does not involve the help of a whistleblower. Because no one in the know stepped forward, Dr. Fata was able to continue his alleged misdeeds. It highlights the need for conscientious whistleblowers. You should always report activity you believe to be suspicious – you never know who you might end up helping.
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