Steven J. Wasserman, MD

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About Steven J. Wasserman, MD

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Florida Physician to Pay $26.1 Million to Resolve False Claims Allegations
U.S. Department of Justice
February 11, 2013

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 514-2007/TDD (202) 514-1888
WASHINGTONSteven J. Wasserman, M.D., a dermatologist practicing in Venice, Florida, has agreed to pay $26.1 million to resolve allegations that he violated the False Claims Act by accepting illegal kickbacks from a pathology laboratory and by billing the Medicare program for medically unnecessary services, the Justice Department announced today. The settlement is the largest ever with an individual under the False Claims Act in the Middle District of Florida and one of the largest with an individual under the False Claims Act in U.S. history.

The government alleged that, in or around 1997, Dr. Wasserman entered into an illegal kickback arrangement with Tampa Pathology Laboratory (TPL), a clinical laboratory in Tampa, Florida, and Dr. Jos SuarezHoyos, a pathologist and the owner of TPL, in an effort to increase the labs referral business. Under that agreement, Dr. Wasserman allegedly sent biopsy specimens for Medicare beneficiaries to TPL for testing and diagnosis. In return, TPL allegedly provided Dr. Wasserman a diagnosis on a pathology report that included a signature line for Dr. Wasserman to make it appear to Medicare that he had performed the diagnostic work that TPL had performed. The government alleged that Dr. Wasserman then billed the Medicare program for TPLs work, passing it off as his own, for which he received more than $6 million in Medicare payments. In addition, the government asserted that, in furtherance of his agreement with TPL, Dr. Wasserman substantially increased the number of skin biopsies he performed on Medicare patients, thus increasing the referral business for TPL.

The government further alleged that, in addition to his involvement in the alleged kickback scheme, Dr. Wasserman also performed thousands of unnecessary skin surgeries known as adjacent tissue transfers on Medicare beneficiaries. Adjacent tissue transfers are complicated and often time-consuming procedures physicians sometimes use to close a defect resulting from the removal of a growth on a patients skin. The government alleged that Dr. Wasserman performed many of these procedures in order to obtain the reimbursement for them and not because they were medically necessary.

Doctors who take illegal kickbacks and perform unnecessary procedures not only put their own financial self-interest over their duty to their patients, they raise the cost of health care for all of us as patients and as taxpayers, said Stuart F. Delery, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice will not tolerate those who abuse the public health care programs to which we all contribute and on which we all depend.

This settlement represents a watershed achievement in our districts civil healthcare fraud enforcement program, said Robert ONeill, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. Schemes of this magnitude require extraordinary remedies, and we are proud to have reached such an outstanding resolution for the taxpayers and their health programs.

1
★☆☆☆☆

Florida Physician to Pay $26.1 Million to Resolve False Claims Allegations
U.S. Department of Justice
February 11, 2013

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 514-2007/TDD (202) 514-1888
WASHINGTONSteven J. Wasserman, M.D., a dermatologist practicing in Venice, Florida, has agreed to pay $26.1 million to resolve allegations that he violated the False Claims Act by accepting illegal kickbacks from a pathology laboratory and by billing the Medicare program for medically unnecessary services, the Justice Department announced today. The settlement is the largest ever with an individual under the False Claims Act in the Middle District of Florida and one of the largest with an individual under the False Claims Act in U.S. history.

The government alleged that, in or around 1997, Dr. Wasserman entered into an illegal kickback arrangement with Tampa Pathology Laboratory (TPL), a clinical laboratory in Tampa, Florida, and Dr. Jos SuarezHoyos, a pathologist and the owner of TPL, in an effort to increase the labs referral business. Under that agreement, Dr. Wasserman allegedly sent biopsy specimens for Medicare beneficiaries to TPL for testing and diagnosis. In return, TPL allegedly provided Dr. Wasserman a diagnosis on a pathology report that included a signature line for Dr. Wasserman to make it appear to Medicare that he had performed the diagnostic work that TPL had performed. The government alleged that Dr. Wasserman then billed the Medicare program for TPLs work, passing it off as his own, for which he received more than $6 million in Medicare payments. In addition, the government asserted that, in furtherance of his agreement with TPL, Dr. Wasserman substantially increased the number of skin biopsies he performed on Medicare patients, thus increasing the referral business for TPL.

The government further alleged that, in addition to his involvement in the alleged kickback scheme, Dr. Wasserman also performed thousands of unnecessary skin surgeries known as adjacent tissue transfers on Medicare beneficiaries. Adjacent tissue transfers are complicated and often time-consuming procedures physicians sometimes use to close a defect resulting from the removal of a growth on a patients skin. The government alleged that Dr. Wasserman performed many of these procedures in order to obtain the reimbursement for them and not because they were medically necessary.

Doctors who take illegal kickbacks and perform unnecessary procedures not only put their own financial self-interest over their duty to their patients, they raise the cost of health care for all of us as patients and as taxpayers, said Stuart F. Delery, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice will not tolerate those who abuse the public health care programs to which we all contribute and on which we all depend.

This settlement represents a watershed achievement in our districts civil healthcare fraud enforcement program, said Robert ONeill, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. Schemes of this magnitude require extraordinary remedies, and we are proud to have reached such an outstanding resolution for the taxpayers and their health programs.

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