Dr. Asad Qamar; accusations of fraud, bribery, and illegal political donations

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Dr. Asad Qamar Institute for Cardiovascular Excellence PLLC (ICE)

[Last updated on June 18, 2015, at 12:44 p.m.]

Ocala, Florida — Florida cardiologist Dr. Asad Qamar could be forced to close the doors to his physician group, the Institute for Cardiovascular Excellence PLLC (ICE), following the suspension of the group’s Medicare reimbursements in March.

In January, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began proceedings to have Qamar’s reimbursements suspended.

Federal documents outlining the suspension were only released this week.

In a letter to Qamar, Theresa Dampier, CMS Program Integrity Manager, wrote, “The suspension for your Medicare payments is based on ‘credible allegations of fraud,’ which is defined as ‘an allegation from any source,’ including but not limited to ‘fraud hotline complaints and patterns identified through provider audits, civil false claims cases, and law enforcement investigations.'”

Qamar is accused of billing for excessive hours, performing unnecessary procedures, failure to submit required supporting documentation for testing and procedures, lack of documentation explaining excessive hours, and failure to provide documentation proving that a procedure was medically necessary.

“Performing medically unnecessary procedures puts patients at risk and contributes to the soaring costs of health care,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

Dr. Qamar performed an unusually high number of procedures on vessels outside the heart. According to records, a patient who actually needed treatment for a blockage in her heart had a stent put in one leg and was scheduled for a similar procedure in the other leg. She never made it to her appointment for the second stent. She died from complications directly related to the first stent.

According to documents provided by CMS, in 2012, Qamar received $18.2 million in Medicare reimbursements. Making him the second-highest paid physician by Medicare for that year. He received $16.03 million from Medicare in 2013.

On March 31, Qamar’s attorney, Tracy Mabry, responded to the suspension by writing, “Regardless of the allegations, until proven, they are just allegations.”

Mabry believes that the government “jumped the gun,” and suspended Medicare reimbursements to Qamar prematurely.

Mabry wrote, “The current suspension action will soon make any such discussion moot, as the Medicare program is placing ICE in immediate jeopardy of closing its doors and discontinuing to serve its 24,000 patients.”

After making several public records requests, Ocala Post discovered that Qamar has been under investigation for quite some time.

In 2010, a consultant who had been assigned to review Medicare billings for Qamar became aware that the group routinely waived Medicare co-payments, and in return, patients would not ask questions about procedures or high billing costs. The consultant wrote, “Dr. Qamar and the group billed for an “unrealistically high percentage of expensive procedures.”

Three weeks ago, Ocala Post received a news tip that suggested Qamar had also made illegal donations to the Democratic National Committee. The donations were for substantial amounts.

According to reports, Qamar, who is a Republican, had asked his contacts in Congress to help with a federal review of his Medicare payments.

The Democratic National Committee would no longer accept donations from Qamar after word got out about the federal review. However, Qamar was desperate to maintain his political relationship with powerful politicians in Washington and found a way to send grossly large donations to the Democratic Committee.

How you ask? He used his children as political pawns. You read that correctly: Qamar made donations in the names of  two of his children. At the time, his son was only 16 years old.

According to the Federal Elections Commission, Qamar donated over $32,000 to the committee in his daughter’s name. Then, using his 16-year-old son’s name, Qamar donated another $32,000.

In 18 months, Qamar donated $75,000 just in his daughter’s name alone. According to sources, most of the money went to the Democratic Party and the Obama Victory Fund.

The Democratic Party unquestioningly accepted the donations and said that the committee had done so legitimately and legally.

However, a donation made in a child’s name is required by law to come from an account owned and controlled by the child.

Qamar could not prove that the bank accounts were in his children’s names.

In fact, when the Democratic Party was asked to provide copies of the cancelled checks to prove the donations were legal, suddenly, the Democratic Party had a change of heart and returned all of Qamar’s money. Thus, they avoided an investigation.

In one instance, Qamar donated $75,000 to a group tied to President Obama. With the donation, Qamar stated that he hoped to become an ambassador for Obamacare.”

In January 2013, Qamar attended a pre-inaugural party and personally handed an envelope to Obama.

Qamar also sent out numerous letters to Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and members of Congress on relevant subcommittees.

Qamar said he had become involved in Obama’s policies partly so that he would have an opportunity to make the case that medical practices like his are suffering because contractors conducting the reviews for the HHS were slow and unnecessary.

The letters complained about the lengthy review of the billing practices led by the Department of Health and Human Services. In the letters, Qamar insisted that the reviews unnecessarily delay payments and that they threatened to put him out of business. Qamar wanted the law to be changed.

An activist, who would only speak to Ocala Post if her name was kept confidential out of fear of political retribution, said Qamar was attempting to pay off politicians to make the investigation disappear. She said, “If a man is willing to break the law and go to such great lengths to make an investigation disappear, why would anyone believe he has not committed Medicare fraud?”

“I have attended political events and witnessed Qamar hand envelopes to very powerful people,” she said. “I cannot say what was in the envelopes, but one does not attend these types of events to deliver letters.”

Through Ocala Post’s investigation, it was learned that many individuals were not willing to talk about Qamar or his donations. Many refused to speak because of the upcoming election.

It became very clear that many politicians have no morals and are not willing to do the right thing. Getting re-elected appears to be more important. And because government e-mails are public record, many refused to communicate at all via e-mail.

However, White House officials would say that, in 2013, Qamar did give off the impression that he was attempting to pay large amounts of money to “make the investigation disappear.”

Once White House staff members realized Qamar’s actions would be publicly known, politicians cut ties with Qamar, effectively stripping his chances at becoming the ambassador for Obamacare.

In total, Qamar donated approximately $450,000.

As for the current investigation, CMS says that the allegations are very credible; therefore, the suspension has been imposed on all of ICE’s health care professionals.

The suspension was placed on all of ICE’s healthcare professionals due to the enormousness of the alleged fraud. However, CMS has not yet put a dollar amount on the fraud.

During this investigation, Ocala Post inadvertently uncovered other fraud being committed by doctors within Marion County. Stay tuned for those details.

UPDATE

Some of the physicians within ICE’s physician group might have been reinstated after this article was published. If a patient would like to know if their doctor has been reinstated, call the Physician Services at CMS-Medicare and Medicaid Department at 404-562-3808.

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  • Itsabouttime

    Woah, and the poor people are sticking up for this guy? Just because he has helped you with money, doesn’t make violating federal regulations OK. People trust every word this doctor says. Just because he says you need a stent, doesn’t make it so. That is what the whistle blowers are trying to say. Billing for “A” when you actually needed ‘B” is wrong, illegal, and dangerous. Went to his office once. Besides the snotty bitch sitting at the from desk, I most definitely got the impression of a greedy man. But he pulls one over on older people all the time apparently.

    • Mary Lou Lemke

      I never have trusted this guy It was obvious he had his hand in a lot of cookie jars.

    • Michelle

      don’t comment on s*** you know nothing about a******

      • Itsabouttime

        After reading the documents on the Department of Justice website, it is quite clear.

  • Lynn Kirk

    I see one of the assistants there and unfortunately he (and I ) have to suffer for the misdeeds of Dr. Qamar. I will have to find another cardiologist and start over after 10 + years. bummer. And I have never received any procedure that wasn’t backed up by testing and I have never received any monetary benefit from his office

    • Karen M

      guess you are one of those people he made money from over and above the procedure $$$ ! He is CHARGED with ‘creating’ more avenues of money by ‘tests’ but on people who had NO SYMPTOMS of a problem! so what you said above proves that! He is charged with doing ‘unnecessary’ procedures so why do you defend him? because it will be an inconvenience for YOU? what about the lady who died due to a ‘stent’ Dr.Q put it? She too had an appointment to come back for ‘more testing’ to see if she needed a second stent, but she died before that appointment ! Be glad you didn’t go back to him! as I said , my cousin liked his Doc. too (not Dr.Q) but he now knows he underwent some unecessary tests too!
      move on, and be glad you survived his ‘care’

  • cindermaggi

    Bummer!

  • cindermaggi

    10 plus years wow!

  • Jerry3701

    Good job reporting the facts, Ocala Post

  • Karen M

    you are right Jerry, The Ocala Post gave a lot more info that the article in the Ocala Star Banner! “The People Want to Know”!

  • judy735514

    According to this article all professional staff were suspended from the Medicare program, however, as investigations continue,(according to Medicare) physicians who were not involved in the alleged activites were re-instated into the Medicare program. If you want to confirm that your physician has been re-instated, contact Physician Services at CMS-Medicare and Medicaid Department (404) 562-3808. Never rely on news information alone….always confirm the information by contacting the source…in this case…Medicare. Sometimes news media isn’t aware of changes after an article is published.

  • A320tech

    Dr. Qamar IS THE BEST…and does EVERYTHING he can for his patients! EVERYTHING! Ocala Post is “reporting” nothing more than THEIR personal hopes and RHETORIC that QAMAR will get burned to the ground! Just another FLAMING EXAMPLE of 21st Century Bleeding Heart Liberal “Journalism!”

    Your Ocala Post “investigation” is another example why…Ocala post ITSELF should be brought up on charges of LIES AND DECEPTION!

    We, PERSONALLY, know THE FACTS DEAR OCALA POST! I CERTAIN by now you know EXACTLY WHERE you can STUFF “YOUR FACTS!!!”

    Also another example why news media shouldn’t allow grammar and middle school kids and high school drop outs report such issues AS FACT..when they’re nothing more than BOLD FACED LIES!!!

    • criminaljustice2day

      You sound like a whining teenager sticking up for mommy. OP only reported the facts. EVERYTHING in this article is now public record. AND, as @itsabouttime stated, it is on the DOJ’s website. You really sound like a douche. Anyone that has followed OP from its inception knows they are far from liberal. You must have them confused with the Star Blunder. But hey, if you PERSONALLY know the FACTS, I PERSONALLY invite you to take a trip to the DOJ and school them with your wealth of knowledge. And really, you sound like an employee trying to stick of for the doctor, so don’t embarrass yourself and just stop. Oh, and change your user name to “A420tech,” because you are obviously smoking dope.

    • john1967

      @criminaljustice2day:disqus, I couldn’t have said it better myself. This person should take the pacifier out of their mouth and face facts. Qamar is nothing more than another foreigner that took advantage of the U.S. system and got rich from doing it.