A former cardiologist found guilty of federal health care fraud will wait until October before his official sentencing.
Dr. Anis Chalhoub was scheduled for sentencing in U.S. District Court in London on Aug. 14. However, that hearing was rescheduled until October 30, according to a document filed in federal court the day before the sentencing date.
Chalhoub was indicted in June 2016 for allegedly submitting false claims to the Medicare program. The indictment states that Chalhoub "did devise and intend to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud and obtain money from federal health care benefit programs by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises. The acts occurred between March 2007 through July 13, 2011, according to the indictment.
It further states that Chalhoub 'implanted single chamber and dual chamber permanent pacemakers in patients without sufficient medical need or justification" as well as "caused claims for medically unnecessary procedures and services to be submitted to health care benefit programs." That action not only affected payments from the Medicaid/Medicare programs, it also extended to pay-outs from "other public and private health care benefit programs."
Chalhoub was found guilty of one count of medical fraud during a 14-day trial in April. He could serve as much as 10 years in prison for his actions.
The trial involved many witnesses, including former cardiology patients who testified that Chalhoub had told many of them they would die without a pacemaker. However, research showed that the condition Chalhoub cited to many patients was "sinus node dysfunction," which is not a fatal condition. Evidence presented during the trial, according to the press release from the U.S. Attorney's office, showed that Chalhoub had implanted 234 pacemakers in cardiology patients that were medically unnecessary under the guidelines of the Medicare coverage regulations.
Chalhoub is the second former cardiologist who could serve prison time for health care fraud that stemmed from a massive number of lawsuits filed against cardiologists at Saint Joseph London. The "unnecessary procedures" lawsuits came after Edward Marshall filed a lawsuit in late 2011. Soon after, other cardiology patients began filing claims against the team of cardiologists practicing at the London hospital. Over 200 patients filed claims against the hospital, the cardiologists and the billing agency for the cardiologists.
Many of those claims were dismissed without having a basis for a lawsuit, either because the patient's condition was pre-existing and the procedures were necessary or their medical condition was not due to just the cardiology realm. Others, however, reportedly settled before the case went to court. One former patient received over $2 million from his lawsuit. Saint Joseph London was also ordered to repay over $16 million to Medicare/Medicaid programs for its share of the revenues collected from the federally funded health care programs.