A Florida vascular surgeon has agreed to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit brought by a whistleblower who claimed the doctor and his practice billed Medicare and other federal health care programs for vein ablation procedures that “contained false diagnoses and symptoms.”
Dr. Irfran Siddiqui, owner of the Heart and Vascular Institute of Florida, will pay the U.S. $2.2 million to resolve the whistleblower lawsuit, the U.S. Attorney’ Office for the Middle District of Florida announced.
According to the complaint, Dr. Siddiqui and his Davenport-based practice submitted false claims to Medicare and TRICARE from Jan. 2, 2011, to June 30, 2018. In addition to claiming reimbursement for false symptoms and diagnoses, federal prosecutors allege Dr. Siddiqui and his practice up-coded evaluation and management service claims to levels of service that were not supported by patients’ medical records.
The whistleblower complaint also claimed that the surgeon and his practice billed Medicare and TRICARE for vein ablation procedures, such as for varicose veins, that were not medically necessary or that were performed by unqualified personnel, or both.
“Our civil division aggressively pursues medical providers whose practices damage vital federal health programs,” said U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez. “This settlement is an excellent example of the robust civil health care fraud enforcement that has long been a central part of our district’s mission.”
The government said that the whistleblower in this case is a patient of Dr. Siddiqui named Lois Hawks. Ms. Hawks will receive $446,000 as an award for bringing the False Claims Act lawsuit on behalf of the U.S. government. Her award amounts to about 20 percent of the $2.2 million recovery.