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Medicare’s top billing doctor is convicted of medical fraud

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 04 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2188
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

A Florida ophthalmologist, often described as America’s richest practicing physician, has been convicted on 67 counts of defrauding Medicare.

Salomon Melgen billed the government $190 million (£148m; €174m) for services that were medically inappropriate between 2008 and 2013.1 Patients’ diagnoses were written out by staff before they were seen, the most lucrative conditions were diagnosed in improbable numbers, and vision treatments were billed for prosthetic eyes, the jury found.

The Dominican born, Harvard trained doctor received $105m of the money billed, but became embroiled in several disputes with the public payer.

Melgen became active in politics and befriended a Democrat senator from New Jersey, Bob Menendez, who interceded on his behalf in the billing dispute. Menendez and Melgen holidayed together, Menendez took free trips on Melgen’s private jet, and Melgen contributed roughly $1m in campaign contributions. Menendez …

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