Dr. Bashir Azher, M.D., 69, an Arizona-licensed physician practicing in Bullhead City, Ariz., has agreed to pay the United States $207,988 to resolve civil allegations that he violated the federal False Claims Act by submitting false bills to Medicare for prostate laser ablation procedures, commonly known as Green Light prostatectomies.
“This settlement is the latest of our office’s longstanding and ongoing efforts to protect taxpayer dollars and recoup them when misappropriated,” said United States Attorney John S. Leonardo.
“When physicians fail to meet professionally recognized standards of care while providing medically unnecessary procedures, taxpayers’ dollars are wasted and the public’s trust in the medical profession is at risk,” said Timothy B. DeFrancesca, Acting Special Agent in Charge for the Los Angeles Region of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. “Our agents will continue to hold health care providers accountable for improper claims.”
The settlement agreement resolves allegations that from February 2006 through July 2014, Dr. Azher knowingly submitted materially false claims for reimbursement for prostate laser ablation procedures that were too short to generate a therapeutic benefit, failed to meet professionally recognized standards of care, were medically unnecessary, and/or violated applicable Medicare regulations. The settlement is neither an admission of liability by Dr. Azher nor a concession by the United States that its claims are unfounded.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in June 2014 by Dr. Arnaldo Trabucco, M.D., under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private citizens to bring civil actions on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery obtained. The case was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona and is captioned United States ex rel. Trabucco v. PHC Fort Mohave, Inc., et al. (CV-14-8094-PCT-DGC). Dr. Trabucco will receive a share of the settlement payment that resolves the qui tam suit he filed.
The case was investigated by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General.