TYLER (July 22, 2014) A former employee at a hospital owned by embattled Texas physician Dr. Tariq Mahmood testified Monday that Mahmood routinely came into her office and insisted that she alter records to reflect expensive treatments that weren't actually provided to increase the amount he would be reimbursed by Medicare.
Testimony was set to resume Tuesday in a Tyler federal courtroom in a case that could land the doctor in federal prison for up to 15 years if he is found guilty on two counts of conspiracy to commit Medicare fraud, two counts of health care fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Mahmood at one time owned six rural Texas hospitals, including one in Cameron that now is being operated by a new company and one in Whitney that was forced to close its doors.
After the billing clerk refused Mahmood's orders, she testified on Monday, she learned her billing codes had been charged at another facility that Mahmood owned, the hospital in Cameron.
At one point, she said, Mahmood ordered her to fax all of her Medicare forms to the Cameron hospital where he had centralized Medicare billing for all his hospitals.
Another billing clerk testified on Monday that she was fired shortly after she refused to falsify Medicare reimbursement forms.
The government has accused Mahmood of fraudulently billing Medicare for more than $1 million in bogus charges, a federal indictment against him says.
The indictment accuses Mahmood of directing his employees to alter billing codes to claim inflated costs and in many cases filing Medicare forms for patients he never actually saw.
In a document filed last week at a pre-trial hearing in the case, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas says "When this evidence is coupled with witness testimony that the defendant was directing individuals to submit fraudulently changed codes, it proves the existence of the defendant's scheme to defraud Medicare."
Trial in being held in U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider's court in Tyler.