Monday, April 23, 2012

Dan Joachim Sentenced for Receiving Materials Depicting the Sexual Exploitation of Minors and Health Care Fraud


NEW ORLEANS—Dan Joachim, M.D., age 52, a resident of Metairie, Louisiana, was sentenced today to serve six years in prison before U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman after previously pleading guilty as charged to receiving materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors and health care fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Jim Letten. Joachim was further ordered to repay $5,000 in restitution and sentenced to five years of supervised release after his term of imprisonment ends. Physicians Analytical Services Inc. (PAS) a Maryland corporation that pleaded guilty to the same count of health care fraud, was sentenced to repay $500,000 in restitution and was also placed on one year of probation.

According to court documents, Joachim used multiple computers connected to the Internet to search for and download images of child pornography on a variety of websites. A forensic search of one such computer revealed that Joachim downloaded from the Internet and stored approximately 152 images and five videos of children as young as six months old being forced to engage in a variety of sexual activity with adults and animals. Joachim organized the images in folders he created on his computer.

Additionally, beginning in or about 2004, and continuing until in or about April 2010, Joachim worked as the Medical Director of a Maryland company called Intra-Op Monitoring Services Inc. (IOM). IOM employed physicians to remotely monitor, through the use of an Internet connection, neurophysiological surgical procedures performed at hospital and surgical suites. An IOM-employed technician, meanwhile, was present in the operating suite to communicate with the telemonitoring physician. For the telemonitoring of a surgery to be legitimately billed, the in-suite technician had to be in contact with a physician, and the physician had to be available in real time to interpret the data via the web-based interface. Further, the monitoring physician had to be able, in real time, to convey the interpretation to the technician, who could relay the information to the surgeon. In addition to his responsibilities as Medical Director, Joachim also was supposed to monitor surgeries. PAS was a wholly owned subsidiary of IOM and was responsible for billing-related matters.

PAS fraudulently billed various health care benefit programs for monitoring services that IOM-employed physicians did not provide and routinely overbilled for those monitoring services that were provided. In particular, PAS and other billing companies billed for telemonitoring services that did not occur. Often, the connection did not exist between the technician and the monitoring physician. Other times, technical difficulties prevented the physician from monitoring most, or all, of the surgery. Additionally, PAS non-physicians would log onto the monitoring software using a physician’s log-in information, including the log-in information of Joachim, and pretend to be a physician and monitor surgeries in the place of physicians.

PAS also regularly upcoded the billing by representing that surgeries were being monitored for longer periods of time than the CPT codes permitted. For example, CPT codes provided for bills to be submitted for monitoring that took place between the time at which an electrophysiologic “baseline” was established and the ”closing” of the surgery. PAS, however, would routinely bill time spent prior to the establishment of a baseline, such as introducing the patient’s history to the monitoring physician or after the closing.

When insurers denied PAS’s requests for payment, the company routinely appealed those denials. In doing so, PAS frequently claimed that the rejection of the claim was “inappropriate and unjust,” even though PAS was well aware that the claims submitted were false and fraudulent in that they represented that the surgeries had been monitored in real-time by physicians employed by IOM, when PAS well knew that the surgeries had not been so monitored.

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