TUCSON (KVOA) - Modern Vascular, an Arizona-based chain of vascular clinics, and its founder Yuri Gampel are being accused of violating the False Claims Act, Medicare fraud and offering illegal kickbacks in a newly filed federal lawsuit by the Department of Justice.
The News 4 Tucson Investigators have been looking into the company for about a year and a half after hearing from multiple former patients who claim they faced complications, including amputations, after what they claim were unnecessary procedures.
In the federal complaint filed Tuesday, the federal government says "Modern Vascular and Gampel put their own greed over compliance with the law to enhance their profitable schemes. During the relevant time period, Modern Vascular Corporate submitted and received reimbursement for over $50 million in false claims to Medicare Part B and TRICARE that were tainted by kickbacks and should not have been paid."
"It makes me sick," said former patient Kae Barnes.
Barnes has had an ongoing lawsuit against Modern Vascular for more than three years. She accuses the company of performing an unnecessary procedure that caused her leg to be amputated.
"Every single day it has an effect on me," she said.
Lennie Bollinger is an attorney representing a former Modern Vascular patient in New Mexico. He said Modern Vascular also performed an unnecessary procedure that led to complications.
"She went into a Modern Vascular clinic with both of her legs and came out, ultimately, both of her legs had to be amputated," he said.
Last year Modern Vascular sent out its Chief Medical Officer and a surgeon from Kansas City to Tucson to speak with the News 4 Tucson Investigators about such claims.
"We all have complications no matter how good you say you are," said surgeon Dr. Juan Carlos Correa.
"We have data we follow protocols and because its done outpatient the total cost is a fraction of what's done in patient," explained Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steve Burkowitz
The federal complaint accuses the company of offering around 20 physicians up to 2% ownership in new locations if they'd refer patients, none of those physicians are named. Barnes believes they should be.
"They should all be called out, they were all in it, they are just as guilty as the physicians at Modern Vascular," she said.
The N4T Investigators reached out to Modern Vascular for comment on the federal complaint we did not receive a response.
When asked earlier this year about similar claims made by the Department of Justice the company sent us the following statement:
“Modern Vascular provides cutting-edge, innovative and minimally invasive endovascular procedures to treat Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) and is committed to advancing regular screening, early diagnosis, and successful treatment of PAD. Our mission is to eliminate unnecessary amputations using patient education, behavior modification, at-home medical management and outpatient procedures.
While we do not comment on pending litigation, we believe the complaints, which seek large paydays for the relators – two of which are competitors who don’t know how our business operates, are without merit. We intend to vigorously defend against the claims.
Like all healthcare companies, Modern Vascular operates in a highly regulated industry and our goal is to fully comply with the myriad of complex laws and regulations that apply to our business. Compliance is a top priority for us, and we are constantly reinforcing our efforts to achieve best practices. We have and will continue to cooperate with the Department of Justice and the U.S. District Court in seeking to reach a resolution for the allegations against the Company.”
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