New Mexico physician fakes cancer diagnosis to avoid 4-year sentence for billing fraud

A judge sentenced a Santa Fe, N.M.-based physician to more than four years in prison for healthcare billing fraud and obstruction of justice after he allegedly faked a cancer diagnosis to postpone the hearing, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

A federal grand jury indicted self-described "holistic" cardiologist Roy G. Heilbron, MD, in 2015. The indictment claimed Dr. Heilbron defrauded health insurers by billing for unnecessary tests and inflating reimbursement by misusing billing codes, among other accusations.  

In February 2017, Dr. Heilbron pleaded guilty to fraud and admitted his Santa Fe-based clinic defrauded Medicare, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, and other health insurers. Last year the New Mexico medical board also placed his medical license on "inactive" status and banned him from reapplying to practice medicine in the state, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

Dr. Heilbron's obstruction count alleged he faked medical documents purportedly showing he had cancer and was seeking chemotherapy in Costa Rica. He claimed a delay in treatment could result in his death. Authorities arrested Dr. Heilbron in August 2017, after determining the documents were fake and may have been used to postpone or avoid his fraud sentencing. Dr. Heilbron pleaded guilty to the obstruction count in February 2018, admitting he was vacationing in Europe when he requested to postpone his sentencing.

Dr. Heilbron will be on supervised release for three years after his prison sentence, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

Editor's note: This article was updated July 12 at 3:32 p.m. CT to update the headline to New Mexico, not Arizona. We regret this error.

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