Alleged scams value California physician, ache clinics $11.4 million in settlement

A California doctor and his medical follow, which as soon as operated 29 ache clinics statewide, have agreed to pay almost $11.4 million to resolve allegations of false claims being submitted to federal and state medical health insurance packages for medically pointless procedures and care, a U.S. Legal professional in Sacramento stated Tuesday.

Lags Backbone & Sportscare Medical Facilities Inc., and Dr. Francis P. Lagattuta, the proprietor and medical director of Lags Medical, agreed to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by submitting hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in bogus claims to Medicare, Medi-Cal and the Oregon Medicaid packages for pores and skin biopsies, spinal twine stimulation surgical procedures and urine drug testing, Phillip A. Talbert, the U.S. Legal professional for the Division of Justice’s Jap District of California, said in a press launch.

Of the three-part settlement, Talbert stated it resolves allegations  from 2016 to 202 that  Lagattuta and Lags Medical carried out medically pointless pores and skin biopsies to check sufferers for small-fiber neuropathy.

As a part of the settlement, Lagattuta and Lags Medical acknowledged that Lagattuta created what he referred to as an “Synthetic Intelligence Group” of non-provider employees “who had been required to order at the very least 150 pores and skin biopsies per week for sufferers with out the consent of the sufferers’ treating suppliers at Lags Medical,” Talbert added within the ready assertion.

Moreover, Lagattuta and Lags Medical acknowledged that if a affected person refused a pores and skin biopsy, Lags Medical staffers advised the affected person that they would scale back their opioid remedy and advised the affected person’s supplier to right away “taper” the affected person’s remedy.

Secondly, the settlement resolves allegations from 2018 to 2021 that Lagattuta and Lags Medical carried out medically pointless surgical procedures to implant spinal twine stimulators, an invasive surgical procedure of final resort for the therapy of power ache.

Lagattuta, in keeping with Talbert, paid a psychiatrist to inform Medicare and Medicaid insurers that the psychiatrist had carried out a vital psychological analysis on every affected person earlier than the surgical procedure and that the affected person didn’t have any preexisting psychological or energetic substance abuse problems that may adversely have an effect on their response to the process.

However Lagattuta and Lags Medical knew that the psychiatrist didn’t carry out in-person psychological evaluations of any sufferers and ignored indications that many sufferers suffered from psychological or substance use problems earlier than receiving spinal twine stimulation surgical procedure, Talbert famous.

Lastly, of the drug testing, the settlement resolves allegations that from 2017 to 2021 that Lagattuta and Lags Medical carried out medically pointless definitive urine drug testing, which identifies the focus of particular drugs, unlawful substances, and metabolites, or substances shaped in or vital for metabolism, in urine samples. Blanket orders of urine drug testing — similar orders for all sufferers with out regard to every affected person’s individualized medical necessity for the take a look at — aren’t lined by Medicare.

Talbert stated Lagattuta and Lags Medical acknowledged that they made similar orders of urine drug exams for all sufferers to be examined each 4 months, saying is ought to be a “large cash maker,” and ordered the utmost variety of drug panels for every affected person, utilizing Healthcare Frequent Process Coding System Code G0483.

The settlement quantity of $11,388,887 relies on Lagattuta and Lags Medical’s potential to pay and consists of proceeds from Lagattuta’s sale of a remotely operated underwater automobile. As a part of the settlement. Lagattuta, who as soon as operated ache clinics from Los Angeles and Monterey to Fresno and Sacramento counties, amongst many others, has additionally agreed to a voluntary exclusion from federal well being care packages for 5 years. It’s unclear if any Solano County residents sought care and ache aid from Lagattuta and Lags Medical.

“Dr. Lagattuta and Lags Medical engaged in a brazen scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} by inflicting pointless and painful procedures on sufferers whom they had been presupposed to be relieving of ache,”  Talbert said.

California Legal professional Common Rob Bonta speaks at a information convention in Sacramento on June 28, 2022. (AP file picture/Wealthy Pedroncelli) 

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