Take It To Heart: VA Cardiologist Gets 20 Months In The Slammer For Fraudulent Billing
A Somerset, New Jersey man, Dr. Apostolos Voudouris, age 44, was sentenced to 20 months in prison on July 31st for fraudulent billing schemes against the VA.
Voudouris is a cardiologist who has worked with the Newark VA since 2006. His sentence is part of a plea agreement, and it would likely have been harsher had he been found guilty at trial instead of accepting the plea.
Between 2011 and 2015, Dr. Voudouris has admitted guilt to at least 350 separate occasions of billing the VA for medical procedures that never actually occurred. The fraudulent billing came to $238,230 in total. Reminder to readers at home: that sounds like a lot for one person, and it is, but it is still pretty easy for a doctor to aggregate that kind of money.
I recently posted an article about how VA doctors are underpaid. The example case in that article WAS a cardiac physician – a surgeon rather than a nonsurgical resident, but still in the same field – and I would like to take a moment to point out that this $238,230 in fraud does not even cover the difference between that doctor’s annual salary in the private sector vs the VA.
Most doctors, VA and private-sector alike, are trying to do the right thing and not defraud their patients. I am not in the business of justifying Dr. Voudouris’ or any other professional’s wrongdoing. What I am saying is, I understand where his impulse to commit this crime came from. VA doctors make peanuts, at least relative to other doctors doing exactly the same work in the private sector.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office definitely took this case to heart, and they have sentenced Voudouris to hard time. They also hit him where it really hurts – in the wallet.
In addition to his 20 months in prison, Voudouris must pay back the $238,230 he owes as criminal restitution. He was also fined $7,500 as part of his criminal sentence, and he must pay a whopping $476,460 as part of a civil settlement with the VA for the same wrongdoing (which is exactly twice the amount of the fraud).
All in all, this amounts to $714,690, just north of triple the total defrauded amount… and still an amount that one chief cardiac surgeon could write you a check for, if you just gave them a year to earn it. As long as they worked in the private sector and not the VA.
Had this asshole cardiologist been a Veteran that claimed .03 cents over on a travel pay voucher, that Veteran would have had their life ruined forever by passive-aggressive staff, credit likely ruined, and maybe even a local call to a SWAT Team and DHS to make a little VA Disruptive Behavioral welcoming Committee.
This Dr. committed a FEDERAL CRIME and War Profiteering should be added and since we are in active wartime still, am thinking a firing squad made of cardiologists with chronic cataracts is in order.
In my opinion those VA doctors are overpaid, They arn’t worth a flip. A witch doctor in a straw hut could do better…My right foot would swell up and he made me take off my shoe and sock and he says it doesn’t look to bad…..Compared to what, He never made me take the other one off..LOL what a joke and a waste of time, I mainly go just to keep track of my blood work
WORLD/WHIRLED CLASS HEALTH CARE…HA HA HA
Just in case you believe in those medical studies most of them are a big cover up
Great video. That ain’t the only cover-up by many administrations.
I’d put some on, only the list would probably take days to compile, paste and put here!
Here’s another one that goes along with that one.
“Most doctors, VA and private-sector alike, are trying to do the right thing and not defraud their patients. I am not in the business of justifying Dr. Voudouris’ or any other professional’s wrongdoing. What I am saying is, I understand where his impulse to commit this crime came from. VA doctors make peanuts, at least relative to other doctors doing exactly the same work in the private sector.”
Are you adding criminal defense to your repitoire Ben? You understand his impulse??? All of these guys who served, your primary audience, served to uphold the law as is written in The Constitution, the document that all laws ultimatley stem from. WAHT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, YOU UNDERSTAND HIS IMPULSE??? Have you gone crazy???
Peanuts? I guess you haven’t read that as far back as 2002 the VA has ignored hiring practices and hired shit doctors. There’s an article here on the subject. So the VA hires doctors with revoked licenses, had so many malpractice suits they could not afford insurance or work elsewhere and I can name 5 myself they should shit can. These doctors have caused veterans to die, miss cancers that led to deaths, limbs cut off that could have been saved and a list of shit that would take all day to write and make me go coo coo for my Cocoa Puffs. Most are overpaid and fall into that shitty attitude you get around so many problems. I hate the place and there’s a million things going on we don’t know about because the VA has a huge rug they sweep shit under. Like they hid a suicide for 8 months sending a memo to keep quiet, only reason found out was because an employee was pissed one day. There also a veteran in Virginia that had a PCP and wasn’t comfortable with and had a feeling something was wrong? She was his primary for 7 years until the found out she didn’t have a license to practice in the US and when approached? Packed up and back to India so couldn’t prosecute. Just on this site alone can make yourself crazy reading about things doctors do. They don’t need a raise either, they are on a 40hr a week schedule, hour for lunch, benefits, vacations and pensions. The problem is the VA hires the wrong people and promotes a unhealthy environment, if hired real supervisors mistakes would cause training and not death. They are lucky to get what they have.
Yep and the reason they’re entitled to treat people like shit, quickly diagnosing and missing existing problems and so on. If this goon was any good at all? He would have head hunters calling 3x a day. I would bet he did stupid shit at work and would love to read his employment file and talk to people at the VA, only to see what kind of doctor he was. As far as money? People don’t stay that long if any good, so he either sucked or the VA could only find the tip of the iceberg on how much he over billed. One good thing is he has a job waiting for him when he leaves prison.
Since the VA isn’t REALLY getting better, and there’s a mix of different beliefs on how the VA is doing, and that POTUS’s powers are limited using the stroke of a pen, what about all us getting Twitter accounts, and then directly send POTUS Tweets about how he should be calling out other influential Politicians about the mess in the VA?
That’d be a good way don’t ya think? Plus, others would see an increase of messages going to the President. And, the character limitation on Twitter, would help us to fine tune our comments, therefore making them more pointing.
Personally, I’m thinking about doing it. Can’t hide, cave and buckle, when you’re getting the shit knocked out of ya all the time. There are REALLY times to not give a fuck. It’s not only about you, it’s about us all, and the future Green Brothers and Sisters, that is relating to the VA.
On our end, it’s going to take more than a post here, and a post there. Oh go ahead and get pissed the fuck, I don’t care. No one is talking about it, only here and there = Stagnancy.
And here’s the main reason behind WHY physicians want outrageous wages for healthcare! Patients, and physicians who are for the patients, are up against a bunch of greedy assholes!
“STATE SLAPS DOWN DOCTOR WHO WANTS TO CUT PATIENTS’ IMAGING COSTS”
“North Carolina protecting Winston-Salem hospital revenues by banning competition”
Published: 12 hours ago!
Author : Mr. BOB UNRUH
“The state of North Carolina has decided to protect the revenue stream for a Winston-Salem hospital by preventing a competitor who planned to offer imaging services at a lower cost from obtaining the necessary equipment.”
“The complaint has been filed in Superior Court for Wake County by the Institute for Justice on behalf of Dr. Gajendra Singh.”
“The institute said Singh opened Forsyth Imaging Center in 2017 to give patients an option for lower-cost medical imaging services.”
“But he’s not even allowed to purchase an MRI scanner – a key component for his business – because the state has a “certificate of need” law requiring that medical-business operators get permission to compete with existing businesses.”
“And, the institute said, the board that makes those decisions is “dominated by regulators and health care industry insiders” who say the hospital’s profits need to be assured and there is no “need” for competition.”
“As a medical doctor, Dr. Singh took an oath to help people in need, yet the state is standing in his way to protect established medical providers from competition,” said Renée Flaherty, an attorney at IJ, which represents Singh. “That’s plainly unconstitutional. Dr. Singh knows first hand how hard it is for many of his patients to afford expensive medical services like MRIs and other scans. He’s made it his mission to provide affordable treatment with up-front prices.”
“But North Carolina’s “outdated” CON law, or “certificate of need,” has made it “an uphill battle for him to deliver on that promise,” Flaherty said.”
“The institute pointed out Singh started his business because, under Obamacare, high deductibles are common for patients, and one of the items that typically is paid out of pocket is medical scans.”
“So he opened his business advertising prices that are “as low as one-half or even one-third the costs of the nearby hospital.”
“He’s already purchased or leased a number of scanning devices such as X-ray and ultrasound machines, but because of the CON law, he cannot purchase an MRI scanner, the report said.”
“Instead, he has to pay another provider to bring a costly mobile MRI to his office on a trailer for two days per week (the law requires that it be moved at least once per week). The mobile MRI is a costly loophole that allows Dr. Singh to provide a small number of patients the MRIs they need, but it only serves to drive up costs and drive down availability.”
“The defendants are the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Gov. Roy Cooper, Health and Human Services chief Mandy Coehn and others.”
“Competition is the lifeblood of American entrepreneurship,” said Singh. “There is nothing special about the medical imaging field that should exempt it from basic economic principles like competition, and instead put in place a monopoly dominated by established medical providers.”
And, there’s individuals out there and on here defending the high costs of healthcare, physicians pay etc., etc., etc.!
To them, I say – bullshit!
Well where the hell does this guy get off over billing???
My own recent hospital experience was by competant, caring, and trustworthy staff that honestly cared for the patients. So this is not a VA facility but even a non world class facility works. I briefly scanned the bill and after seeing the bare bones pricing of supplies it makes me mad that a different doctor would overcharge. Let me print some examples;
$4.37 for each cotton ball used, $17.20 if a que tip handled by a CNA, $7.82 for towel warming, $7.42 for each page copied as outpatient instructions, $74.79 for the plastic elbow length glove to cover IV during shower, $24.23 for deluxe shower kit and spit bowl combo complete with mouth stuff that washes and the list goes on and on. They are transparent and obviously have fairly priced the goods used in my care. I mean there are like PAGES of examples of this fairness with my non VA doctors.
Then this guy comes along and knowingly overcharges??? What nerve!
Off the subject, I got a letter Choice appts. ends Sept. 30th because healthnet is relinquishing their scheduling powers to the VA. Then got a call from Non-VA care that they are stopping all my outside appts. I had through Choice (Used 5 of 15 appts.), told me to make an appt. with my clinic for what I was on Choice for. Well the clinic that is four blocks away from my place I’d just walk to, told me they can’t get me in for an appt. in less than 30 days. Because I moved recently they say to call their VAMC and make an appt. because I’m 38.7 miles away now (I’m sure they looked at the shortest possible way there as I only moved 7 blocks away from where I was at). Who would have figured the VA would try to get everyone back in their system? Screwed again…..
when the Doctors over in the VA treat the Veterans as they should be treated, then they will be paid more. But as long as they keep doing stuff like this, then screw em.
It fascinates me to see the federal government come down on the underlings in the VA. The catch the low level people mis prescribing meds, stealing VA property, writing insensitive thoughts on Facebook, selling their va pain killers, taking too much time on union activities and in this case, cardiologist over billing. BUT…….
The same investigators can’t prosecute the people and corporations that are stealing billions of dollars from the taxpayers funding the VA.
It’s called “low hanging fruit” When the masses demand blood you have to offer a sacrifice to placate them. Hell even this dude got off light. He’ll probably be out in half that time since he’s a “non-violent offender” Paying back the money might be tough but if he’s allowed to keep his license or retain another then even that will be easily surmountable. But, in the end, the government can say “See? we have given you the blood you demanded.” The problem is, they’ve only given us a thimble full of it and try to call it justice.
You will never see a member of the inner circle with their nuts on the block, unless they do something so egregiously awful that they must pay for their sins. After all, whats the point of the “good ol’ boys club” if they can’t protect you.
Thanks for your input, you certainly are well read. Now, if you could get enough non military to read that article, they might begin to comprehend the military doctrines, then that pressure will make the VA do what it is supposed to do.
Supposed to do.
@#29 – Our Politicians need to hold debate, then hopefully agree by removing the VA from the protective umbrella called Tort Law. These laws are more demanding, complex, and takes a lot more time to pursue in finality of a win against the VA.
Plus, there aren’t many Attorneys that practice in Tort Law offering services to Veterans, so that proper suits may be addressed against the corrupt VA, and the numbers of successful winning cases surely would increase more than what it has been in decades.
Basically, many speak of how VA’s healthcare is much worse than the Private Sector, (myself included), and by the VA’s rating system of their healthcare, a grading system broken down by each medical center being evaluated, and my personal know-how of the VA system, then I’d say that the VA is intensely worse than the Private Sector. Without a doubt.
And, this is why I believe, that since POTUS Trump campaigned on fixing the VA to better serve Veterans, and he then repeated such at the State of the Union Address. Now, many will say that the President alone can’t fix the VA, that his powers are limited. And I say OK, that’s fine. So, but what can be done to keep the promises that POTUS tells us Vets. And believe me, I TOTALLY believe that POTUS knows that he can’t reform, change-up, or to shut down the VA, or what-ever.
But for me, I’d think that POTUS is somehow measuring how his Executive Orders implemented on the VA, that how effectively the EO’s are doing. Or has a special team to do so, if not there should be. This is where I have a hard time to not believe that the Administrative Military and related Agency Advisors to the President, hasn’t identified that the VA is better guided and regulated by other Gov’t Bodies, Committees, and Overseers.
I personally believe, that they all know that the President’s Office has less Power to make changes in the VA. But no influence. I believe that POTUS has a lot of influence on the administrative persons of Gov’t Bodies, Committees, and Overseers.
Now for Influence. This I believe, is where the President should basically pointing out that these departments and committees need to change. They need to be proactive in finding better ways to serve the 21st Century Veteran. No one can tell me that there are NO Vets, ones that have the Vet in a jam or a crisis, that this Vet isn’t telling off the VA, and pointing out what is wrong? Doubt that. The VA knows how much power that they have and where it lies. And, so does the President of the United States.
Trump needs to hold Press Conferences and do like he do to the Mainstream Media calling them out. Or, how he calls out other Politicians that he’s beefing with by Twitter. POTUS needs to put the spot light on the persons that can change the VA. He should call the out, and then point out what their doing wrong. At least, this would be consistent, and working.
With this being said, Trump put himself into the game mix of reforming the VA, and that’s honorable. What’s not honorable, is the utter lack of urgency compared to the crying out in changing the VA.
And, . . . where I stay shaking my mf’ing head.
All of them state to state, town to town, need to cease attacks and hold serious moratoriums minus all the activism, union crap, nepotism, divisions, and most importantly all the censoring going on. Locally censoring and those attorneys, media, VSOs, the silent majority and more just makes things worse. They all want to make money off of our suffering and the corruption. Finding justice comes with high outlandish pricing or retainers… for no guarantees. The majority not wanting to get involved? Putting justice out of the hands of us poor folks or non-connected people. Politicians just blow smoke and like many others just put up the grand facade of caring that is generations old. Wow, they caught one MD doing wrong? Escape goat or taking the hit to try and prove something or media, the VA to chest pound?
Noone can tell me with the full powers of this government, the American Medical Association, American Bar, the intentional wasted budgets on foreigners that is well known about that all this stalling and insanity going on cannot be ceased and quickly as them creating war over nothing, to the top living with different laws and privileges above the rest of us. No, they all want division while things remain the same.
Depending on where we live and who controls just what in state agencies, politics, or is allowed may make private care impossible or just as bad as the VA and them passing along their brands of retaliation in some state’s political networks of evil and destruction. Hence all their needs for hard censoring and people fearing to get involved in serious issues.
Just my 2 cents there.
Hell, have Dr. Apostolos Voudouris released and come to my town. He’d be very welcome. Many come here to start and then leave or stay and get by with some protected scamming, harm, or attacking those who dare expose any of it. Just depends on the connections made and what MDs will tolerate here in the open air prison camp of living. He will be supported and protected under our regime. Any small change at the top will not change things here at the bottom, period. Nothing.
Union hospital here is still calling and harassing not letting up on the old VA game and tactics. Like when trying to get some actions from my state reps, et al, then it just goes back to the VA and them sending me a letter telling me to come back to the same old corrupt clinic for appointments. Same thing being done here with the clinic and hospital activist. Calling daily wanting me to call or come up for more games and to schedule appointments. Ha. Fat change of that. I got a message on my machine I am keeping as well wanting me to call them back at 812-238-7945 and join their “Residency Program.” Then followed up with invalid calls like from 812-142-8328? Then every politician and others refuse to properly investigate this stuff? How many more in Indiana that left the VA or having issues with health care and the threats are going through this crap? Dunno, too much censoring and corrupt tight ships. Oh wow they are winning the war on drugs and pain meds!!! Gee thanks LEOs, now medical professionals and medical pros today LEOs and fascist. And they still want to play games and not release my med files or play cover-up like a dentist and oral surgeon here has done also with the blessings from all those ‘at the top?’
If y’all read this article carefully, you’ll see why Vietnam Vets are not receiving benefits/compensation for Agent Orange disabilities!
That’s why the VA calls them “presumptives”!
From; “The Augusta Chronicle”
Vietnam veteran listed as Agent Orange survivor denied benefits
By Sandy Hodson
Posted Aug 4, 2018 at 11:54 PM
Updated Aug 4, 2018 at 11:54 PM
For 47 years Jim Black has never slept in a room without a door to the outside. The need for a constant access for escape is one of side effects from the hellish 13 months he spent in Vietnam.
In Vietnam medics told him he just had a drinking problem. They told soldiers they were the cause of their own suffering, said Black, a striking man with long white hair and a neatly trimmed beard, and a single, small gold earring most days.
From photographs taken in 1971, a handsome young man, not old enough to vote or legally drink alcohol, smiles tightly. Before Vietnam, he never drank or smoke. He was healthy with perfect teeth. But that was before Agent Orange.
When he spit cups of blood and his teeth started falling out, medics in Vietnam told him he had gum disease. The weird skin rashes were nothing, he was told. His breathing difficulty was because he smoked.
He joked his hair turned red because of the Agent Orange. “Now it’s not so funny,” Black said, still with a snort of a laugh.
It took nearly two decades after the war ended, but finally in 1991 Congress passed the Agent Orange Act, acknowledging that service men and women in Vietnam were adversely affected by the millions of gallons of herbicide sprayed on the lush vegetation in Vietnam from 1962 to 1971. According to the American Cancer Society, about 3 million Americans were in Vietnam during the spraying.
Because exposure is hard to prove, the Department of Veterans Affairs is supposed to presume that all veterans who served between 1962 and 1975 in Vietnam and certain other areas were exposed to Agent Orange.
It should include Black.
He remembers it flowing out of aircraft. When the monsoons came he and other soldiers sloshed through mud tainted with Agent Orange for three months.
After what he witnessed in Vietnam, he wasn’t about to go near a veterans’ facility when he got back, Black said. And he didn’t for decades until the day he reached for a cigarette and dropped to his knees unable to breath. He never smoked another cigarette. His doctor eventually told him that he had to go to the VA because he couldn’t afford the medicines he needed – one inhaler alone cost $500. So, he went to the VA. Kind of.
It was around 2004, Black said. He only went for the medicines and that’s basically what he got for years. But that was before he met Tina Masaracchia.
At a glance
In 1991, Congress passed the Agent Orange Act. It requires the National Academy of Sciences to periodically review medical and scientific research on the health effects of exposure to Agent Orange, dioxin and other chemicals used during the Vietnam War.
The Department of Veteran Affairs allows compensation to anyone who was in Vietnam from 1962 to 1975 and suffers from a host of illnesses such as a variety of cancers and skin diseases, peripheral neuropathy – which can cause numbness and pain in arms, hands, legs and feet – Hodgkin’s disease, type II diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease.
Compensation is for service in Vietnam and not linked to exposure of the herbicides.
She had experience with medical issues through her work as a child’s advocate and hospice care-giver. Black asked her to help him navigate through the VA. One of the first things she noted was that he had high blood pressure but no high blood pressure medication. Black said a year earlier the doctor dropped it because, he was told, he had developed an allergic reaction. But there was no substitute, Tina Black said.
Two years ago, April 1, 2016, the date is their private joke, they married. She had one condition: Black had to stop drinking, she told him. He did.
Tina Black never doubted the inner strength of the man she married. But she could see he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. He scoffed. He thought it was normal that someone couldn’t sleep in a room without facing the door or that he found a dark movie theater frightening, she said. “I’m not scared of the dark,” Black corrected her. It’s the people in the dark, he explained.
In early 2017 she convinced him to see a psychologist at the VA for treatment of his PTSD. She’s wonderful, they agree. He has a weekly standing appointment, which is a lot, “but it’s because he was like chipping off a rock.”
She got him to seek treatment for horrid skin rashes and neuropathy in his legs and feet. The emphysema requires medicines and inhalers and a breathing machine. When his primary care doctor expressed surprise that he wasn’t receiving VA disability because he considered Black 100 percent medically disabled, she set out to apply, Tina Black said. It was in March 2017. She applied for benefits under the Agent Orange exposure.
Tina Black had been worried about her husband since November. He had dropped 20 pounds. She pestered the doctors about a chest X-ray. It had been five years since his last one. Black had it on Feb. 6. Two days later he underwent an ultra sound. There was a “lesion” on his left lobe.
A Feb. 22 letter informed the Blacks that Jim needed a biopsy to determine how to treat the suspected lung cancer. At the April 11 appointment with the thoracic surgeon, the Blacks walked out when it became obvious to them the doctor hadn’t read any of Jim’s medical record.
Tina Black got in touch with Augusta Oncology and Dr. David Squires, who had treated her mother. A specialized surgery on April 30 determined the tumors were stage 3, not 2 as the VA tumor board determined. Jim had his first chemo the next day. Radiation began May 29.
His next VA appointment was set for June 5, the postcard mailed notice informed the Blacks.
In response to a question about veterans being sent to Augusta Oncology while the VA department is reorganized, the VA public relations responded: “No. The VA assesses each patient’s clinical needs to ensure timely access and delivery of care in the appropriate clinical setting, whether in VA or in the community.”
“If we had waited for the VA, he would have been dead in six months,” Tina Black said. So far, the VA is refusing to pay Augusta Oncology.
On the first Vietnam Veterans Day, the Blacks got the VA benefits notification: he only qualified for 30 percent disability. All of his medical problems believed related to Agent Orange exposure were denied. The only medical issue deemed service connected was the prostate cancer he survived, according to the letter from the VA.
Even though Black was being treated at the VA for cancers, PTSD, emphysema, neuropathy and skin conditions, the private contractor the VA selected to evaluate patients for benefits, LHI, found he didn’t qualify. The Department of Defense classification of Black as exposed to Agent Orange didn’t matter. Apparently neither did his medical records, Tina Black said.
The LHI media relations office did not respond to requests for comments. Asked why a Vietnam War Army veteran of 1970-71 was denied benefits, the VA responded: “It depends on what benefits the veteran was trying to claim,” and suggested a link to the VA benefits section that requires a diagnoses of covered medical conditions, evidence of service in Vietnam and onset of certain conditions, such as neuropathy and skin conditions, within one year of leaving Vietnam.
The explanation of benefits references memory loss. He doesn’t have memory loss, however. It also states Black reported drinking a case of beer daily before being drafted. That’s not true, the Blacks said. He was 19 with a pregnant wife and working two jobs, Tina Black said. “He didn’t even have time to take a drink.” And there’s nothing about the tumors, adenocarcinoma, in his lungs.
“They think we’re scamming them,” Jim Black said. Tina still fumes that a nurse put in her husband’s medical record that she was just trying to get more money.
Most importantly, a finding of 100 percent disability based on the Agent Orange exposure would mean appropriate treatment instead of over-the-counter medications, Tina Black said. It would also mean the VA would provide transportation for medical appointments – a daily occurrence.
A finding of 100 percent also means 100 percent coverage of medications. It means he could get a handicapped license plate. And it would mean triple benefits for Jim and even $1,000 to $1,500 for Tina as a full-time care-giver. Benefits are tax free.
VA patient service told the Blacks that Jim must go through the whole benefits qualifications process again. They were told they had to provide a certified copy of Jim’s divorce from his first wife from the 1970s for some reason neither understands. The representative in charge of Agent Orange services has yet to return a phone call, Tina Black said.
“I am just exhausted,” she said.
“They keep you off balance. This one says I’m dying and that one says there’s not a damn thing wrong with me,” Jim Black said.
“You’re like the rat on the wheel and you can’t get off until you give up,” Tina Black said. “I understand using an abundance of caution and not throwing money at someone. But to make it impossible for an American soldier to get treatment – I can’t wrap my head around that.”
Jim Black knows he has Tina in his corner and she’s not one to give up a fight, not when it’s her husband’s health at stake. But they know that other veterans are not so lucky, and some just give up and take 30-percent disability ranking that means $572 a month and a cap on prescription costs.
“I’m not the only one,” Jim Black said, noting that some Vietnam vets are leery of the government. “There are some who haven’t even gone into the VA yet.”
He went in a heart guy. Might be coming out as a Proctologist
Comments are closed.