Posted: February 2, 2013

As the article in this link shows, being accused by the US Government of improper billing can now lead to jail time.  In this disturbing article, a surgeon in a suburb of Chicago was accused of using improper CPT codes in his bill to Medicare in his surgeries, resulting in enhanced reimbursement.  Instead of asking for the money back, Medicare referred the matter to the Justice Department and the surgeon was convicted of a crime and sent to prison.  The US Attorney leading the prosecution commented that he wanted to send a lesson to all doctors, not that this doctor deserved jail time.  The response from the medical community has been robust: that this prosecution has run amok and ruined this doctor’s career.  The idea that prosecuting a crime will dissuade others by the harshness of the punishment is anathema to a wide swath of political persuasions.   The US Attorney never said that this doctor deserved to go to jail.  One commentator said that the only lesson to be learned was to drop out of the Medicare program.  Sorry lesson indeed.  A sad time for organized medicine.