Spine surgeon claims in court he thought co-marketing agreement with Forest Park Medical Center was legal — 8 insights

Eric Oliver -   Print  | Email

Dallas-based spine surgeon Michael Rimlawi, DO, took the stand as a defendant in the Department of Justice's investigation into an alleged bribe and kickback scheme involving Dallas-based Forest Park Medical Center, the Dallas News reports.

What you should know:

1. Dr. Rimlawi is one of 21 defendants accused of participating in a bribery and kickback scheme at Dallas-based Forest Park Medical Center and its six facilities, which has been pending since 2016. In total, the government accused 21 defendants of collecting more than $40 million in kickbacks that resulted in more than $500 million in patient charges, of which FPMC collected more than $200 million.

2. Dr. Rimlawi took the stand to defend himself, saying co-marketing of hospitals and physicians was commonplace and legal. "I'm totally confused why I'm even here," he said during his defense, according to the Dallas News report. "I never thought for one second it was illegal."

3. The government accused Dr. Rimlawi of accepting $225,000 per month in kickbacks to bring his patients to FPMC.

4. Several people named in the case pleaded guilty to accepting bribes. Dr. Rimlawi argued the money he received for marketing and came with no expectations to perform surgeries at the hospital.

5. Dr. Rimlawi regularly performed cases at FPMC and continued doing so after 2012, when the marketing payments stopped, claiming he thought it was the "best place" to take his cases.

6. FPMC was an out-of-network hospital. Dr. Rimlawi denied knowing about the hospital's billing matters.

7. Dr. RImlawi allegedly consulted with healthcare attorneys about the marketing agreements to ensure the agreements were legal.

8. The Dallas News expects testimony in the case to end in early April.

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