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Indian American cardiologist to pay $400K to settle false billing allegation

New York, July 2 (IANS) An Indian origin cardiologist and the administrator of her company have agreed to pay $400,000 to settle allegations that they submitted irregular billings to Medicare, the government health insurance program for senior citizens, according to officials.

Southern Texas federal prosecutor Ryan Patrick said on Wednesday that cardiologist Annie Varughese, 57, who owned the Houston-based company, and its administrator, Babu Varughese, 64, agreed to the payment to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act (FCA).

The allegations came to light when a former cardiologist filed a lawsuit under FCA that allows whistleblowers to file cases on behalf of the government and be entitled to a share of the proceeds from the action, the prosecutor’s office said.

One of the allegations was that her company sent bills under her number to Medicare for services performed when she was not in the country.

Other allegations were that claims were sent to Medicare for services “that were not reasonable and medically necessary.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Perrye Turner said, “Billing Medicare for services that are not necessary and/or not provided constitutes fraud.”

He added, “The largest area of fraud committed against the federal government today is by unethical healthcare providers who inflate or fabricate Medicare or Medicaid bills.”

Sometimes the government reaches an agreement for those facing allegations to settle out of court by making a payment or restitution in order to avoid costly or complicated litigation. In this case, while making the settlement they have not made any admissions and, as the prosecutor’s office said, they are legally only allegations “with no determination of liability.”

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Opening a new front in the civil rights campaign in the US, California has filed a case against technology company Cisco alleging discrimination against a Dalit employee. Amid the national protests against racial discrimination, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed the case on Monday in a federal court in the Silicon Valley naming the company and two former managers as defendants seeking to bring caste discrimination under the umbrella of unlawful discrimination banned by civil rights legislation enacted in 1964 that does not specify caste. The landmark federal Civil Rights Law specifies only race, color, religion, sex and national origin. DFEH alleged that “managers at Cisco’s San Jose headquarters campus, which employs a predominantly South Asian workforce, harassed, discriminated, and retaliated against an engineer because he is Dalit Indian.” The court papers seen by IANS said that the Dalit employee’s team was made up entirely of “higher caste” Indians who came to the US as adults and “imported the discriminatory (caste) system’s practices into their team and Cisco’s workplace”. The Dalit employee and the manager who supervised him are both IIT graduates who attended it at the same time, the complaint said, without specifying the institution. In addition to Cisco, court documents list Sundar Iyer, a “distinguished engineer at Cisco,” and Ramana Kompella as defendants in the case. The person allegedly discriminated against is described as a principal engineer but is not named and is shown in court documents as “John Doe,” a pseudonym used in the US legal system to protect identities or when a person’s identity is not known. The complaint said that Iyer told others in the company that the person allegedly discriminated against was a member of the scheduled caste and when he confronted the supervisor and complained to the human resources the supervisor and complained to the human resources department, a series of retaliation occurred. Full report on our website. Link in bio. #race #casteism #discrimination #color #cisco #california #dalitlivesmatter #dalit

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