ROCKLEDGE, Fla. - A Brevard County doctor is accused of subjecting hundreds of patients to costly and sometimes medically unnecessary cancer treatments just to rip off Medicare, according to a new lawsuit.
Channel 9's Julie Salomone found the Brevard County Radiation Oncologists, Dr. Wasfi Makar, and the two centers he operated in Rockledge have been ordered to pay the government nearly $90 million for defrauding Medicare, according to court documents.
The order stems from a 2012 lawsuit where
whistle-blower Joseph McBride brought the allegations to light and he claims he witnessed Medicare fraud during his employment at the treatment center.
According to one document, McBride's complaints about "improper billing and improper procedures fell on deaf ears."
He complained to management that they were "billing for procedures" that weren't being done to the patients or procedures that they could not do because they "did not have the required and/or operable equipment to perform the procedures."
Court records go on to say Makar "illegally kept such overpayments" as profit.
Full statement from attorney Chad K. Alvaro, Mateer & Harbert, P.A.
"The claims made by Mr. McBride are false. This is a civil Medicare billing issue, not a quality of care issue. Dr. Makar is an exemplary physician who has provided, and continues to provide, outstanding care to his patients. Dr. Makar performed radiation therapy on his patients and did so with great skill; in fact, the majority of so-called "curable" patients were cured after Dr. Makar's treatment (above the national average).
"The only thing of which Dr. Makar is guilty is failing to timely appear in court to defend Mr. McBride’s claims (and that was only the result of his mistaken belief that a related company’s bankruptcy would stay the civil action). Because he failed to appear, the Court entered judgment against him without a trial, and the Court has refused to set aside the judgment, and that is a determination which Dr. Makar must appeal if efforts to get his day in court fail.
"It is also worth noting that the majority of the $89 million judgment is for fines assessed for every item of three years of bills to Medicare, most of which were not even alleged to have been improper. Dr. Makar is bringing that and other matters to the Court’s attention and hopes to change this horrendous result as soon as possible. "