New York neurosurgeon indicted for unnecessary, invasive tests in kickback scheme

Alan Condon -  

Neurosurgeon Payam Toobian, MD, and his business, America's Imaging Center, have been indicted for allegedly defrauding Medicaid by forcing patients to undergo "unnecessary and invasive medical tests," New York Attorney General Letitia James said in an Aug. 1 statement.

Dr. Toobian, 51, is accused of running a yearslong kickback scheme in which he bribed physicians for patient referrals. He allegedly performed medically unnecessary tests and filed false claims to Medicaid. 

The tests included MRIs of the brain, cervical spine and lumbar spine, all "with contrast," according to prosecutors, which required subjecting patients to unnecessary and invasive injections.

Prosecutors said from January 2006 to August 2017 Dr. Toobian allegedly gave gift cards, cash and checks totaling more than $547,000 to three physicians in exchange for their referrals of patients to Empire Imaging, a diagnostic radiology center in Forest Hills, N.Y., he operated through America's Imaging Center. Empire Imaging allegedly received over $1 million in paid claims relating to those referrals. 

In addition to the kickback scheme, from January 2014 to August 2017, the surgeon allegedly told Empire Imaging employees to add "additional, unordered radiological procedures to orders submitted by referring physicians to increase the amount of money Empire Imaging would receive from Medicaid," according to prosecutors. 

Dr. Toobian's charges, which are accusations until proven in a court of law, include grand larceny, healthcare fraud, falsifying business records and violating the Social Services Law statute prohibiting the payment of kickbacks for services under the state's Medicaid program.

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