Sentencing underway for Michigan cancer doctor who overprescribed chemo treatments

A sentencing trial is underway for the infamous Detroit cancer physician that prescribed extended, medically unnecessary chemotherapy treatments as part of an elaborate Medicare fraud scheme. So far, the proceedings featured testimony from health experts and victims of the scheme as U.S. District Judge Paul Borman decides on the final sentencing.

Farid Fata, M.D., pleaded guilty last September to 13 counts of healthcare fraud, two counts of money laundering, and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks. Fata's lawyers are seeking a 25-year sentence, while the government is asking for a 175-year sentence, plus $17.6 million in restitution, according to mlive.com.

Already, the court has heard from one victim who underwent 195 chemotherapy treatments from Fata, 177 of which were unnecessary, according to USA Today. One expert witness, a Harvard Medical School professor described Fata's treatment techniques as "beyond aggressive" and "over the top." All told, the government identified 533 victims of Fata's unnecessary practices and four insurance companies that paid for more than 9,000 unnecessary treatments, according to the Associated Press. 

Fata was flagged during last year's Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services physician payment release, which showed he was paid more than $10 million in Medicare payments in 2012, more than any oncologist in the country. Last year, a FierceHealthPayer: Antifraud column discussed how schemes that put patients in harm's way should be a top priority for fraud fighters.

For more:
- follow the mlive.com updates of the sentencing
- read the USA Today article
- here's the AP report

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