California physician pays $24M to settle Medicare, Medicaid overbilling allegations

A California plastic surgeon will pay $23.9 million to settle allegations his practice submitted false claims to Medicare and Medicaid. 

According to an April 28 news release from the Justice Department, the settlement resolves allegations that Joel Aronowitz, MD, his son Daniel Aronowitz, and Dr. Aronowitz's medical practices and billing company submitted false claims to government payers. 

The Justice Department alleged Dr. Aronowitz manipulated billing codes for skin graft procedures to maximize reimbursement. The department also alleges Dr. Aronowitz improperly disposed of single-use skin grafts and reused portions for later procedures. The improper disposal resulted in "thousands of instances" of double-billing to Medicare and Medicaid, the department alleges. 

As part of the settlement, Dr. Aronowitz and his practice are barred from billing Medicare or Medicaid for 15 years. Daniel Aronowitz is excluded for three years. 

The state of California paid a portion of the alleged false Medicaid claims and will receive nearly $500,000 in the settlement. 

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