Doctor pays 10 times damages for Medicare fraud

Dec. 9, 1997-- A California ophthalmologist has agreed to pay $375,000 to the federal government to settle a whistleblower lawsuit charging that he had defrauded the federal government by billing Medicare for a procedure that he never performed on his patients and did not have the equipment to do.

"Medicare would have continued to reimburse Dr. Kurwa for this procedure if Sandra Hearn had not filed a False Claims Act lawsuit," said Lisa Foster, a San Diego attorney with Phillips & Cohen, who represented Hearn. "Often the only way Medicare fraud is detected is by honest employees stepping forward and blowing the whistle."

Hearn, of Alta Loma, Calif., was an office manager for Dr. Badrudin Kurwa in Arcadia, CA.

The substantial penalty the doctor was forced to pay coupled with the strict compliance procedures he must now implement is compelling testimony to the effectiveness of the False Claims Act, Foster said.

"This case is a warning to all doctors that if you cheat Medicare, you will be caught and you will pay," Foster said. "Over billing $30 here and $50 there adds up to millions of dollars even if only a small percentage of doctors across the country are cheating Medicare."

For more information about Phillips & Cohen's record, see P&C's Successful Whistleblower Cases.

For more information, see the following news stories:

  • "California doctor to pay $375k to settle allegations of overcharging Medicare," Federal Contracts Report, 12/15/97.
  • "Arcadia doctor to pay Medicare fraud damages," David R. Olmos, Los Angeles Times, 12/10/97.
  • "Doctor settles charges," Frank C. Giradet, Pasadena Star-News, 12/10/97.