Alleged Menendez Gift-Giver Loses Bid For Rehearing Of Medicare Overpayment Suit

By: Douglas E. Roberts

In a prior post, we blogged about the Third Circuit’s ruling that the political case against Senator Bob Menendez can proceed to trial.   Now, in a separate civil matter, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has denied a rehearing en banc to the Florida opthamologist from whom Menendez allegedly solicited and received bribes.

Vitero Retinal Consultants, a clinic owned by Dr. Salomon Melgen, challenged a Medicare Appeals Council decision that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services overpaid the clinic more than $9 million by extracting multiple dowses of the macular degeneration drug, Lucentis, from a single-dose vial. In September 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida (Judge Marcia G. Cooke) upheld the Council’s decision.  A three-judge panel affirmed, rejecting the clinic’s argument that Medicare has established a practice of reimbursing for other multi-dosed drugs with a “single use” instruction.   According to the Court, the “single use” instruction for those other drugs was intended to prevent doctors from administering medications stored past the acceptable eight-hour timeframe.  Lucentis, in contrast, has a label that states each vial should, under all circumstances, be used just once, and any excess should be drawn into a syringe and expelled.

The clinic petitioned the Court for a rehearing en banc, arguing in part that the panel’s ruling permitted CMS to supervise the “manner in which medical services are provided . . . ,” in violation of the Social Security Act, by making a determination as to the propriety of administering multiple doses of Lucentis. The Eleventh Circuit (Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum) issued an order denying the petition without an accompanying opinion.

Melgen faces separate criminal charges for the alleged overbilling and bribery of Senator Menendez in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

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