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Four of six Michigan doctors indicted on health care fraud charges will likely spend years in federal prison after being linked to a massive Medicaid and Medicare fraud and kickback scheme that involved $122 million. The scheme involved services that were medically unnecessary or never rendered, including physician visits, hospice care, home health care, and the billing but not dispensing of pharmaceuticals.

The charges were part of a wider health care fraud case that involved 16 suspects, including doctors, a social worker, a pharmacist and two physical therapists.

Dr. Hatem Ataya, entered into a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office on March 18. He’s agreed to serve a minimum of 6 1/2 years in prison, pay a fine in up to of $250,000 and accept a forfeiture judgement filed by the government for $4.1 million. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 16 before U.S. District Judge Sean F. Cox.

Dr Ataya richly deserves the sentence he received, if not more. In addition to the Medicare scam, he was responsible for injuring or killing a number of people ,including clients of ours. Sadly, because of the fact that Michigan does not require doctors to carry malpractice insurance as many states do, and because most doctors in Michigan are woefully underinsured, the victims of Dr Ataya will never get the full measure of justice they deserve, in the wake of the increasing epidemic of preventable medical deaths as recently published in the British Medical Journal and the scandals involving Drs. Ataya, Fata and Awaad, each of whom victimized hundreds of patients with their wholesale schemes to render unnecessary treatment for their own greed.

The people of Michigan need to act and demand that the Legislature take steps to impose accountability on hospitals , doctors and other health care providers.

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