California plastic surgeon, practices pay $23.9 million for whistleblowers’ complaints

by Ben Vernia | April 29th, 2023

On April 28, the Department of Justice announced that a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon and related defendants have agreed to pay nearly $24 million to settle allegations brought in several whistleblowers’ qui tam complaints that . According to DOJ’s press release:

A plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, California, along with his son, medical practices, and billing company, have agreed to pay $23.9 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by submitting or causing the submission of false claims to both Medicare and Medicaid.

The settlement announced today resolves allegations that Dr. Joel Aronowitz; Daniel Aronowitz; Joel A. Aronowitz, M.D., a medical corporation; Tower Multi-Specialty Medical Group; Tower Wound Care Center of Santa Monica, Inc.; Tower Outpatient Surgery Center, Inc.; and Tower Medical Billing Solutions (the settling parties) falsified the place of service for skin grafts and billed multiple times for single-use skin substitute products. The United States contends that the Settling Parties manipulated the place of service code on claims for skin grafts to fraudulently maximize reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid. The United States further contends that Dr. Aronowitz failed to properly dispose of unused portions of single-use skin graft materials and, instead, used them in later procedures involving other Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, resulting in thousands of instances of double billing.

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The government announced that the defendants have agreed to voluntary exclusions (of various lengths) from federal healthcare programs. Although the relators will receive a share of the settlement proceeds, those amounts have not yet been determined, DOJ stated.

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