Kentucky cardiologist invokes wartime statute in Medicare kickbacks case

April 2, 2013 by Brad Perriello

A Kentucky cardiologist who blew the whistle on alleged Medicare fraud invokes a law that would extend the statute of limitations on his lawsuit because the U.S. was at war in Iraq at the time.

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A whistleblower cardiologist from Kentucky wants a federal judge to bar a move to dismiss his lawsuit alleging a kickbacks scheme that defrauded Medicare, arguing that the statute of limitations should be extended because his lawsuit was filed while the U.S. was at war in Iraq.

Dr. Tullio Emanuele accused Medicor Assoc., several affiliates and 5 former colleagues of engaging in a scheme to defraud the government by setting up fake "medical directorship contracts" to pay the physicians $75,000 a year in return for virtually no work, according to court documents.

Emanuele sued Medicor and the other doctors on behalf of the government in October 2010 under the False Claims Act, alleging that the defendants ran scheme "to obtain reimbursement for cardiac and vascular surgical and diagnostic procedures that were not medically necessary, that were overbilled, or otherwise improperly billed" from about from June 1, 2001, to May 31, 2005, according to the documents.

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The alleged scheme "to pay kickbacks to and to engage in unlawful relationships with physicians to induce patient referrals" involved the allegedly fraudulent contracts, 1 of which Emanuele signed, according to his lawsuit.

"That contract purports to require Medicor, through its physicians, to provide 'medical supervision and direction of rehab/ restorative cardiovascular services' ... in exchange for $75,000 per year," according to the lawsuit. "The contract was for a 1-year term and renewed annually during the time that [Emanuele] was employed at Medicor."

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