3 physicians charged in healthcare scheme.

Three additional physicians have been charged for their roles in having allegedly improper contracts to defraud mainly the California workers comp healthcare system.

David Payne, MD; Jeffrey Gross, MD; and Lokesh Tantuwaya, MD, the three additional physicians, were charged in relation to the government’s investigation into alleged kickbacks payments obtained for patient’s receiving spinal surgeries performed at Pacific Hospital in Long Beach, Calif, which closed in 2013. They were part of the over a dozen physicians and other medical professionals involved in the investigation.  There is no claim of inappropriate or substandard medical care in the allegations.

Allegedly, Dr. Payne collected roughly $450,000 in payments to guide more than $10 million in surgeries to Pacific Hospital. On June 14, he was arraigned on charges of conspiracy, honest services fraud and using an interstate facility to aid in unlawful activity.

Dr. Gross purportedly received payments from 2008 to 2013 in accordance with the allegations.  On June 13, he pleaded not guilty to charges contained in a multi-count indictment returned earlier this year.  He was the only physician in this group not to be charged with violation of the anti-kickback statute.

Dr. Tantuwaya was apparently paid $3.2 million in payments in exchange for performing or referring more than $38 million in surgeries to Pacific Hospital. He was charged in a 13-count indictment in February and pleaded not guilty in April. His trial is slated for November.

Michael Drobot, former owner and CEO of Pacific Hospital, plead guilty earlier. He was sentenced to more than five years in prison in January.   Years earlier, Michael Drobot successfully sued Berkshire Hathaway’s worker’s comp insurance division (which have profited substantially in California) for failure to pay for approved worker’s comp medical services at his hospital.  Berkshire Hathaway’s investigator, William Reynolds then filed a complaint against the hospital and others.  Civil suits also ensued, which were tainted by attorneys for California worker’s comp insurance companies being disqualified, and then dismissed.  Adding further intrigue, both attorneys for Pacific Hospital have died.