A Hicksville doctor agreed Wednesday to pay $338,000 to settle allegations that he submitting false claims to Medicare for minimally invasive spine procedures, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
Dr. Richard Obedian, a Hicksville-based orthopedic surgeon, settled the allegations Aug. 21, which accused him of “knowingly” submitting improper claims to the federally funded Medicare program throughout 2005.
Lawyers for the Justice Department said the claims were submitted for a procedure known as kyphoplasty, a minimally invasive procedure used to treat compression fractures of the spine that are often due to osteoporosis.
Before 2006, Medicare rules required the use of a specific billing code to mark a kyphoplasty procedure, the federal agency said. The rules also precluded the use of other codes assigned to more invasive, complicated and expensive surgeries.
The Justice Department alleged that Obedian purposely circumvented lower payments for kyphoplasty procedures by using incorrect billing codes that were assigned to more complicated surgeries. Government attorneys said that entering the incorrect billing codes allowed Obedian to inflate his Medicare reimbursements throughout 2005.
“We expect physicians who participate in federal health care programs to bill for their services accurately and honestly,” said Stuart F. Delery, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division.
Thomas O’Donnell, the Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in New York said the settlement “vividly illustrates the role of dynamic law enforcement partnerships in the battle to protect Medicare from those who would bill inappropriately.”
Obedian previously made headlines in June after he was arrested as part of the Nassau County DA’s ‘Operation Flush The Johns.’ He was one of 104 men arrested in the massive prostitution sting after undercover cops arranged to meet the men at local hotels by posting bogus ads on Backpage.com.
Court records show his case for the charge of third-degree patronizing a prostitute remains ongoing at Nassau First District Court in Hempstead. He is due back in court on Sept. 11.
A woman answering the phone at Obedian’s office said he had no comment. Asked if he would come to the phone and comment on his prostitution arrest, she said “nope, no comment at all.”
Authorities said there was no determination of liability for the settlement on Wednesday.