Ohio cardiologist blames ACA for his 20-year Medicare fraud sentence

Harold Persaud, MD, a cardiologist in Westlake, Ohio, received a 20-year sentence this month for performing unnecessary procedures as part of a scheme to overbill Medicare and private insurers. Dr. Persaud is now claiming the Affordable Care Act is responsible for his troubles.

Dr. Persaud was convicted earlier this year of one count of healthcare fraud, 13 counts of making false statements and one count of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from criminal activity. In December, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Dr. Persaud, who owned a private medical practice, allegedly performed nuclear stress tests that were not medically necessary on patients and recorded false test results to justify cardiac catheterization procedures.

He also allegedly referred patients for coronary artery bypass surgery when there was no medical necessity for such surgery and performed medically unnecessary stent procedures, aortograms, renal angiograms and other procedures and tests.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Carole S. Rendon said Dr. Persaud's prison sentence is "well deserved," as he used his medical license "as a license to steal."

However, Dr. Persaud told the Guardian the federal government targeted him under the protection of the ACA as a method to try to force physicians to cut down on procedures.

"I did make some mistakes and I take full responsibility for that, when I dictated my notes, but none of it was fraudulent," said Dr. Persaud. "I made some billing errors, but I did nothing wrong, medically."

A hearing has been slated for Jan. 27, 2016, to determine how much restitution Dr. Persaud will pay.

More articles on healthcare lawsuits:

HCA strikes $2M deal to settle whistle-blower allegations
Steward claims Southcoast filed 'sham' lawsuit in battle over market share
Ex-hospital CFO files federal discrimination lawsuit in Washington

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