US Cardiologist Admits to Ordering $19 Million in Unnecessary Testing

April 11, 2013

PATERSON, NJ — A New York area–based cardiologist has confessed to ordering unnecessary tests and procedures on patients to the tune of $19 million[1]. Dr Jose Katz, the owner and chief executive officer of Cardio-Med Services and Comprehensive Healthcare and Medical Services, admitted to ordering diagnostic tests regardless of patient symptoms and falsely diagnosing a majority of his patients with angina to justify their treatment.

The Record, a New Jersey newspaper, reports that Katz also admitted that he allowed unlicensed practitioners to treat and diagnose patients, including Mario Roncal, who obtained a medical degree in Puerto Rico but was never licensed to practice in any US state. Katz also kept his wife on the payroll to make her eligible for Social Security benefits even though she did little or no work.

Katz made the admissions to US District Judge Jose Linares during a federal court hearing in Newark, NJ, last week. The government accused Katz of operating a "medical mill," where he ordered the same series of diagnostic tests on his patients, directed other employees or other physicians at his companies to perform the unnecessary tests, and falsely diagnosed a majority of his patients with angina. Katz even billed Medicare and Medicaid $15 million for enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) for the treatment of angina, something his attorney admitted was unnecessary.

As part of his plea, Katz admitted that he bilked Medicare, Medicaid, and other insurers out of $19 million between 2004 and 2012. This is the largest amount of healthcare fraud discovered in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, the article states. Katz denied that the fraud put any of his patients at risk, insisting "the patients are more important than anything else."

According to the Record, Katz was paid more than $70 million from Medicare and Medicaid between 2005 and 2012. His busy practices, which included offices in Paterson and Union City, NJ, and Manhattan and Queens, NY, treated hundreds of patients each day. Katz also advertised extensively, spending $6 million on Spanish-language TV and radio ads over several years.

Katz was released on a $200 000 bond and faces between 57 and 87 months in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 23, 2013. Roncal, the unlicensed physician, has already pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud and is awaiting sentencing.


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