Texas Doctors Whacked|for $3.9 Million

     McALLEN, Texas (CN) – Two South Texas doctors will pay the federal government $3.9 million to settle claims they billed Medicare for unnecessary heart tests.
     Drs. Carlos Mego and Subbarao Yarra of Valley Heart Consultants did not admit they were guilty of Medicare fraud in the settlement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
     The bargain is the result of a 2007 False Claims Act lawsuit filed under seal by two former employees of Valley Heart.
     Under the False Claims Act a whistleblower can file a lawsuit on behalf of the U.S. government under seal, and receive a cut of any settlement the government recovers.
     “The suit alleged that from Jan. 1, 2004, through September 2010, Mego and Yarra violated the False Claims Act by billing Medicare for nuclear stress tests and physical examinations which were allegedly substandard,” prosecutors said in the statement.
     “The United States also alleged that the nuclear medicine used in the tests was injected by personnel who lacked the requisite license. Many of the nuclear stress tests were allegedly unnecessary, as well as many of the coronary angiographies, echocardiograms and carotid Doppler studies which the defendants billed to Medicare, according to the allegations.”
     The settlement bookends an agreement Valley Heart Consultants reached with the Texas Attorney General’s Office in November 2013.
     In that deal Mego, Yarra and their partner Dr. Pedro Mego agreed to pay the state $5.5 million based on allegations that their practice billed Medicaid patients for unnecessary tests performed by unlicensed technicians.
     Texas did not revoke the doctors’ rights to participate in its Medicaid program.

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