Medicare fraud charges settled against NY Presbyterian, Columbia, doc for nearly $1M

Columbia University this week settled for nearly $1 million for Medicare fraud charges against the Trustees of Columbia University, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Dr. Erik Goluboff, who was the former director of urology at Presbyterian Hospital and former associate professor at Columbia.

New York's U.S. Attorney's Office on Wednesday announced that Columbia, Presbyterian, and Goluboff fraudulently overbilled Medicare for urological procedures and billed for tests that weren't necessary, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office press release.

Between 2003 and 2009, Goluboff allegedly conducted unnecessary diagnostic tests and billed Medicare excessively. The complaint further alleges that Columbia and Presbyterian knew about the doctor's fraudulent practices and didn't stop the "alarming compliance issues."

The settlement, approved on Tuesday, requires that Columbia pay the government $995,000 in civil damages.

"There is no finding of wrongdoing. The settlement avoids protracted litigation," Columbia University Medical Center's Director of Communications and Public Relations Doug Levy told Forbes in an email statement.  

The complaint and settlement represent increased efforts by authorities to crack down on Medicare fraud. Yesterday, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) released its 2012 fiscal year work plan to continue identifying and preventing healthcare fraud, abuses, and waste. The OIG announced changes that would use data-mining technology to identify select hospitals for targeted review.

"This case should serve as a reminder that regardless of how well-established or prestigious the entity or individual, this [Attorney's] Office will pursue those who engage in Medicare Fraud, and they will bear the costs of their actions," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in the statement.

The U.S. Justice Department said that federal prosecutions against healthcare fraud are set to rise 85 percent.

For more information:
- read the Forbes article
- read the Journal News article
- here's the U.S. Attorney's Office statement (.pdf)

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