Guyanese cardiologist blames ACA for 20-year fraud sentence

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OHIO, United States, Wednesday December 30, 2015 – Disgraced Guyana-born cardiologist Dr. Harold Persaud, who received a 20-year sentence this month for performing unnecessary procedures as part of a scheme to overbill Medicare and private insurers, is now claiming the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is responsible for his troubles.

He was sentenced this month after being convicted earlier this year of one count of healthcare fraud, 13 counts of making false statements and one count of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from criminal activity.

Dr. Persaud, who owned a private medical practice, allegedly performed nuclear stress tests that were not medically necessary on patients and recorded false test results to justify cardiac catheterization procedures.

He also allegedly referred patients for coronary artery bypass surgery when there was no medical necessity for such surgery and performed medically unnecessary stent procedures, aortograms, renal angiograms and other procedures and tests.

As a result of this scheme, Dr. Persaud overbilled and caused the overbilling of Medicare and private insurers in the amount of approximately US$29 million, of which Medicare and the private insurers paid approximately US$5.7 million, according to court records.

“Dr Persaud’s systematic use of medically unnecessary tests and procedures, falsification of patient records and submission of false billings to health care insurers added up to a toxic mixture of fraud at the expense of patient safety and well-being and taxpayer dollars,” said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge of the US Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General – Chicago Region.

But Dr. Persaud nevertheless told The Guardian that the federal government targeted him under the protection of the ACA as a method to try to force physicians to cut down on procedures.

“I did make some mistakes and I take full responsibility for that, when I dictated my notes, but none of it was fraudulent,” he said.

“I made some billing errors, but I did nothing wrong, medically.”

A hearing is scheduled for January 27 to determine restitution.

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