Physician Practice Roundup—Immigrant doctor detained by ICE released from jail; 2 doctors save passenger on flight

airport immigration kiosk
A Michigan doctor was released from jail after being arrested by ICE agents. (Wittayayut/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Immigrant doctor detained by ICE released from jail

A Michigan doctor, a green card holder who has been in the U.S. for 40 years, was released from jail last week after he was taken into custody Jan. 16 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.

Lukasz Niec, M.D., who was arrested at his Kalamazoo home, was ordered released from jail by a Detroit immigration judge after hearing arguments for about three hours, according to MLive. Niec, who was born in Poland, was released on a $10,000 bond after his arrest on misdemeanor charges that date back 25 years, CBS News said. His legal troubles are not over, however, as his next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 22.

His arrest comes amid an ongoing federal push toward strict immigration enforcement and a debate in Congress over immigration policies. While the House of Representatives passed a stopgap spending bill Tuesday night, Senate leaders Wednesday struck a bipartisan budget deal which fails to resolve those immigration issues. Democrats have been demanding immigration reform, including a resolution to help young “Dreamer” immigrants, many of them working in the healthcare field or training as doctors, who were brought to this country illegally as children. (MLive, CBS News)  

Bipartisan Senate budget deal boosts health programs

Senate leaders announced a two-year budget deal that would increase federal spending for defense as well as key domestic priorities, including many health programs.

There's no bipartisan legislation aimed at shoring up the Affordable Care Act’s individual health insurance marketplaces, although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., promised Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a vote on health legislation in exchange for her vote for the GOP tax bill in December. 

The deal does appear to include almost every other health priority Democrats have been pushing the past several months, including two years of renewed funding for community health centers and a series of other health programs Congress failed to provide for these programs before they technically expired last year. (FierceHealthcare)

Physicians protest Anthem anesthesia coverage policy

Doctors in California are raising the alarm over a recent policy change from Anthem that they say could harm patients undergoing cataract surgery.

The policy categorizes monitored anesthesia care as “not medically necessary” during routine cataract surgery, according to the California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, the California Society of Anesthesiologists and the California Medical Association.

However, the groups contend that sedation is frequently needed to allow the patient to relax and avoid movement that could have catastrophic consequences—including blindness. (FierceHealthcare)

Former doctor sentenced to prison for illegally prescribing opioids

Also in Michigan, a former doctor was sentenced to 75 months in prison for illegally prescribing opioids and committing healthcare fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the eastern district of Michigan.

Rodney Moret of Madison Heights was convicted of prescribing over $15 million worth of prescription drugs and committing $6 million in healthcare fraud. Prosecutors said Moret wrote prescriptions for medically unnecessary controlled substances and billed Medicare for examinations and tests that were not conducted properly or at all. (U.S. Attorney’s Office announcement)

Kentucky doctor found guilty on drug charges

In Kentucky, a Bowling Green doctor pleaded guilty to multiple charges of unlawful distribution and dispensing of controlled substances and healthcare fraud. Charles Fred Gott, 66, a formerly licensed physician, was indicted by a grand jury in 2015 and according to details of his plea agreement will serve 96 months in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the western district of Kentucky.

He was charged with dispensing controlled substances including methadone, fentanyl and hydrocodone, along with other drugs. (U.S. Attorney’s Office announcement)

DO Match Day places nearly 1,000 primary care residents

More than 1,600 osteopathic medical school seniors and graduates were matched Monday into osteopathic residencies in 25 specialties, according to the American Osteopathic Association.

That included almost 1,000 residents who will work in primary care, as 55% of candidates chose either family or internal medicine. By 2030, the country is expected to face a shortfall of between 7,300 and 43,100 primary care physicians. (AOA announcement)

Doctors on flight assemble makeshift respiratory device to save passenger

“Here is something you won’t see on the news,” wrote the wife of a doctor on a Facebook post, after her husband and another doctor sprang into action on a JetBlue flight to help save a fellow passenger’s life.

She was wrong as headlines called her husband John Flanagan, M.D., and his friend Matthew Stevenson, M.D., both anesthesiologists, “heroic” for intervening to save an elderly woman’s life after she went into respiratory arrest on the flight from Orlando, Florida, to Jamaica. The two doctors used the oxygen tanks on board along with airbags to create the tools they needed to keep the woman breathing for 45 minutes until the plane could make an emergency landing. (Fox News)