FBI intelligence analyst Jennifer Minton testified on Monday in the Medicare fraud trial of Dr. Salomon Melgen that “Melgen raked in millions more from Medicare for various tests and procedures than any other eye specialist in the nation,” the Palm Beach Post reported:
For instance, while his closest competitor nationwide made $33.6 million over six years for a particular procedure, he made $57.3 million. While the median, or typical, amount a retinal specialist made for a certain test was $3,678, he collected a staggering $16.8 million.
Further, analyst Jennifer Minton testified, it wasn’t because Melgen saw more Medicare patients than other eye doctors. While he treated roughly 2,300 Medicare patients over the six years she reviewed, other doctors treated two or three times as many, she said.
In some cases, the wealthy, politically connected 62-year-old physician, who also had offices in West Palm Beach and Wellington, earned millions for tests most retinal specialists no longer use, she said.
Federal prosecutors continued to build their case against the Dominican-born doctor and long-time contributor and friend to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). After the completion of Melgen’s Medicare fraud trial in a Florida federal court, both men will face public corruption charges in a New Jersey federal court.
Earlier this month, “Dr. Julia Haller, one of the top opthalmologists in the country, testified at the Medicare fraud trial of Dr. Salomon Melgen in a Florida federal court last week that his medical practices were ‘abusive.’ In subsequent testimony, she said they were ‘unconscionable’ and ‘horrifying,’ ” Breitbart News reported.
Melgen “made $8.4 million from the federal insurance program from 2008 to 2013 by using lasers to stem the progression of the disease that slowly robs the elderly of their sight. The second top biller nationwide took in $660,000 during the same years,” the Post reported:
The reason was obvious. While Melgen submitted 12,500 claims to Medicare for laser eye treatments, the median number of claims submitted by his counterparts in Florida and across the nation hovered at around 10. Medical experts previously testified that most doctors curtailed the use of potentially damaging lasers to treat wet macular degeneration in 2005 when far more effective drugs came on the market.
Melgen’s attorneys, Matthew Menchel and Kirk Ogrosky, continue to focus on damage control in the aftermath of testimony from Minton and Haller.
“Minton, who is to be the last prosecution witness, is to be grilled by Melgen’s attorneys today. They tried to block her from showing her comparisons to the jury, which has been inundated with complex medical terminology since the trial began four weeks ago,” the Post reported:
In arguments that were rejected by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra, Melgen attorneys Matthew Menchel and Kirk Ogrosky argued that Minton’s analysis was unfair because it includes doctors who aren’t retinal specialists. Even top eye doctors like Haller and Dr. Stuart Fine, another acclaimed ophthalmologist who testified last month, don’t agree on what criteria should be used, they argued.
Minton’s analysis will leave the jury with the unsupported impression that Melgen was running a fraud factory, they argued in court papers. “There has been no evidence or testimony showing that every service billed and paid for every patient was fraudulent,” they claimed.
Instead, they have said that prosecutors cherry-picked patient records to come up with nearly three dozen cases to support their unfounded allegations of fraud. Describing Melgen as an innovative doctor, they claim he is the victim of poor record-keeping.
The FBI’s Minton, however, remained unwaivering in her testimony against Melgen. the Post noted:
Minton said she he took steps to make sure she was comparing Melgen’s billings with those submitted by eye specialists who did the same kind of work. To make the list, she said, during the six years, all had to have seen more than 2,000 patients, billed Medicare for more than 500 injections of a drug to treat wet macular degeneration and submitted bills each year. Nationally, 899 doctors made the list. In Florida, 101 did.
Melgen “received a whopping $57.3 million from Medicare for injecting the drug Lucentis into his patients’ eyes. The only doctor to come close received $33.6 million in reimbursements,” the Post added.
According to the FBI’s Minton, the national median of the amount of Medicare payments received by retina specialists who treated wet macular degeneration with injections of the drug Lucentis during the six years between 2008 and 2013 was $3 million, $54.3 million less than the amount Melgen received.