Laredo doctor and councilman pays to settle allegations arising from false billing
LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - A 44-year-old physician from Laredo has paid $340,437.68 to resolve allegations he falsely billed Medicare for the use of electro-acupuncture devices, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Dr. Marte A. Martinez Jr. is an anesthesiologist and pain management physician who practices in Laredo. Marte A. Martinez M.D. PLLC is an entity Martinez used to conduct his medical practice.
From Aug. 23, 2019, to Feb. 12, 2020, Martinez billed Medicare for the implantation of neurostimulator electrodes. These are surgical procedures usually requiring use of an operating room. Medicare pays thousands of dollars per procedure.
Neither Martinez nor his staff performed surgery. Instead, patients received devices used for electro-acupuncture. This involves inserting needles into patients’ ears with the neurostimulator taped behind them with an adhesive.
To date, the Southern District of Texas has resolved four other settlements with a Katy anesthesiologist, a Houston pain doctor, a Rockport chiropractor and a Houston chiropractor involving similar allegations of false billing.
The FBI and Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation with the assistance of Qlarant, the Unified Program Integrity Contractor for Medicare. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Gray handled the matter.
The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.
In a statement to KGNS, Dr. Martinez says:
“The device was aimed to help patients who were dealing with opioid addiction. Medicare made changes to the usage of this device. It is really disappointing because this device helped reduce the need of opioid by 40 percent. This change by Medicare hurts us all. We are in the midst of a opioid crisis. The federal government is asking money back from all pain physicians using this device. Which could affect hundreds.”
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