The United States filed a civil complaint yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn against Fresenius Vascular Care, Inc. (“Fresenius”) alleging that the company performed unnecessary procedures on dialysis patients at nine centers across New York City, Long Island and Westchester, and billed the procedures to Medicare, Medicaid, the Federal Health Benefits Program and TRICARE. The complaint seeks damages and penalties under the False Claims Act.
The filing was announced by Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Scott J. Lampert, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General’s Office of Investigations (HHS-OIG).
“The conduct alleged in this case is egregious, as Fresenius not only defrauded federal healthcare programs but also subjected particularly vulnerable people to medically unnecessary procedures,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “This Office will hold medical providers accountable for practices that needlessly expose patients to harm for financial gain at taxpayer expense.”
Mr. Peace also expressed his thanks to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, the United States Office of Personnel Management, and the United States Department of Defense for their assistance with the investigation.
“The alleged conduct by Fresenius unnecessarily compromised patient care and undermined the financial integrity of federal health care programs,” stated HHS-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Lampert. “Along with our law enforcement partners, HHS-OIG is committed to protecting beneficiaries and taxpayers from such abusive practices.”
As alleged in the complaint, from about January 1, 2012 through June 30, 2018, Fresenius routinely performed certain procedures on patients with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) who were receiving dialysis, without sufficient clinical indication that the patients needed the procedures. These interventions included fistulagrams, which are radiological procedures in which dye is injected into the patient’s vein or artery to visualize the port and surrounding blood vessels, and angioplasties, in which wires and balloons are inserted into veins or arteries that have narrowed to restore the patient’s blood flow. Fresenius knowingly subjected ESRD patients—who included elderly, disadvantaged minority, and low-income individuals—to these procedures to increase its revenues.
The government filed its complaint in an ongoing action commenced pursuant to the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, United States ex rel. Pepe and Sherman v. Fresenius Medical Holdings, Inc., et al., No. 14-CV-3505 (ERK). The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jolie Apicella and Anjna Kapoor, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Ellen Buntin of the Office’s Civil Division.
Defendants operated vascular access centers at the following locations during the relevant period:
- American Access Care of Bellmore (now “American Access Care Nassau County”), 250 Pettit Avenue, Suite 2, Bellmore, NY 11710
- American Access Care Brooklyn, 577 Prospect Avenue Lower Level, Brooklyn, NY 11215
- American Access Care of New York (now “American Access Care Manhattan”), 403 E. 91st Street, Floor 2, New York, NY 10128
- American Access Care Queens, 176-60 Union Turnpike #130, Suite 130, Flushing, NY 11366
- American Access Care Suffolk County, 32 Central Avenue, Hauppauge, NY 11788
- American Access Care Bronx, 1200 Waters Place N. Lobby, Suite M 115, Bronx, NY 10461
- Saqib Chaudhry, MD – Flushing, 176-60 Union Turnpike Utopia Center, Suite 145, Flushing, NY 11366
- Saqib Chaudhry, MD – Roslyn, 1044 Northern Boulevard, Suite 302, Roslyn, NY 11676 (no longer operating)
- Verrazano Vascular Associates at Access Care Physicians, 2025 Richmond Avenue, Suite 1LL, Staten Island, NY 10314