SARASOTA — Sarasota physician Dr. Arthur Portnow agreed to pay $1.95 million to resolve allegations that he and his practice violated the False Claims Act by seeking reimbursement for medically unnecessary ultrasound tests performed on Medicare beneficiaries.
Portnow is the owner and operator of Apple Medical Group. According to a statement from the Tampa office of acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow, Portnow submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare for carotid ultrasounds; lower extremity arterial ultrasounds; abdominal aortic ultrasounds; renal and renal artery ultrasounds and echocardiograms from August 2009 through August 2017.
The government also alleges Portnow falsified patient records to justify unnecessary ultrasounds. The statement says Portnow and his practice received hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of the testing.
The settlement concludes a lawsuit originally filed by Kathleen Siwicki, a former employee of Portnow's practice. It was filed under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. Siwicki will receive about $350,000 of the proceeds of the settlement.
“Fraudulently billing the government for medically unnecessary tests deprives federal health care programs, like Medicare, of valuable resources,” says Muldrow in a statement. “This settlement is evidence that our office will continue to pursue those who seek to unlawfully exploit our nation's federal health care programs at the expense of patients and the Federal Treasury."