Tags: Feds | Probing | Medical | Imaging | Kickback | Scheme

Feds Probing Medical Imaging Kickback Scheme

Wednesday, 03 August 2005 12:00 AM

The Florida case involves Boca Raton radiologist Fred Steinberg and his company, University MRI & Diagnostic Imaging Centers, which has three offices in Palm Beach County and is set to open two more.

Investigators are looking into allegations that Dr. Steinberg offered incentives to orthopedic surgeons, neurologists and others to refer patients for magnetic-resonance-imaging (MRI) or computer tomography (CT) scans.

The allegations came in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former employee, a neurologist, who claims he was fired after confronting Steinberg about the alleged kickbacks and Medicare overbilling.

In May, federal authorities executed warrants and served subpoenas on Steinberg's businesses, making copies of computer hard drives and paper records.

According to the whistleblower's complaint, Steinberg entered into an agreement with a number of doctors to bill health insurers for MRI scans performed at his facilities at a higher rate than the facilities charged.

In one case, Steinberg offered to charge a chiropractor $400 for each MRI and $850 for each MRI using image-enhancing chemicals, the complaint alleges.

He estimated that the chiropractor could collect as much as $2,300 from insurers for each of the $850 scans – and pocket the difference.

In a letter sent to a physician group that is quoted in the complaint, Steinberg said the doctors could make up to $1 million over a 250-day period if they entered into a referral agreement with him.

Steinberg has denied any wrongdoing. His attorney Peter Prieto said the agreements were "done above board" and that the "case will go away because Dr. Steinberg did nothing wrong."

But the lawsuit also alleges that Steinberg leased ultrasound equipment to doctors at discounted rates to obtain referrals.

Last month Louisiana's state medical board warned doctors that imaging-referral agreements similar to those Steinberg is alleged to have entered into are to be considered illegal. Other states may follow.

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The Florida case involves Boca Raton radiologist Fred Steinberg and his company, University MRI & Diagnostic Imaging Centers, which has three offices in Palm Beach County and is set to open two more. Investigators are looking into allegations that Dr. Steinberg offered...
Feds,Probing,Medical,Imaging,Kickback,Scheme
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2005-00-03
Wednesday, 03 August 2005 12:00 AM
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