Heart Doc Offering 'Fountain of Youth' Jailed for 6 1/2 Years

Patrice Wendling

August 09, 2021

Cardiologist Samirkumar J. Shah, MD, was sentenced to 78 months in prison after his conviction on two counts of federal healthcare fraud involving more than $13 million.

As part of his sentence, Shah, 58, of Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania, must pay $1.7 million in restitution and other penalties and undergo 3 years of supervised release after prison.

"Dr Shah risked the health of his patients so he could make millions of dollars through unnecessary procedures, and lied and fabricated records for years to perpetuate his fraud scheme," acting US Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman said in an August 5 statement from the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

As previously reported, Shah was convicted June 14, 2019 of submitting fraudulent claims to private and federal insurance programs between 2008 and 2013 for external counterpulsation (ECP) therapy, a lower limb compression treatment approved for patients with coronary artery disease and refractory angina.

Shah, however, advertised ECP as the "Fountain of Youth," claimed it made patients "younger and smarter," and offered the treatment for conditions such as obesity, hypertension, hypotension, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction.

Patients were required to undergo diagnostic ultrasounds as a precautionary measure prior to starting ECP, but witness testimony established that Shah did not review any of the imaging before approving new patients for ECP, placing his patients at risk for serious injury or even death, the DOJ stated.

The evidence also showed that Shah double-billed insurers, routinely submitted fabricated patient files, and made false statements concerning his practice, patient population, recording keeping, and compliance with coverage guidelines, the government said.

During the scheme, Shah submitted ECP-related claims for Medicare Part B, UPMC Health Plan, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Gateway Health Plan beneficiaries totalling more than $13 million and received reimbursement payments in excess of $3.5 million.

"Rather than upholding the oath he swore and providing care for patients who trusted him, this defendant misled patients and drained critical Medicaid funds from families who needed it," said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. "We will not let anyone put their patients' lives at risk for a profit."

"Today's sentence holds Mr. Shah accountable for his appalling actions," said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall. "Mr. Shah used his position as a doctor to illegally profit from a healthcare program paid for by taxpayers. Fraud of this magnitude will not be tolerated."

Shah has been in custody since July 15, 2021, after skipping out on his original July 14 sentencing date. The Tribune-Review reported that Shah filed a last-minute request for a continuance, claiming he had an adverse reaction to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination and was advised by his doctor that he needed "strict bedrest for at least six weeks."

Shah reportedly turned himself after presiding US District Judge David S. Cercone denied the motion and issued an arrest warrant.

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