Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tampa Tribune Newspaper Article May 15, 2014

Fla. doctor faces 200 counts of health care fraud

Published:   |   Updated: April 24, 2014 at 08:03 PM
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A Gainesville doctor surrendered this week after she was charged with more than 200 counts of health care fraud for allegedly charging the government full price for prescription drugs, even though she was giving patients cheaper drugs not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
U.S. attorney's officials said Ona Colasante, 57, turned herself in Tuesday after being indicted by a grand jury.
Colasante "misleadingly" billed Medicare, Medicaid and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida for medical tests, including colonoscopies, X-rays, and hearing tests that patients didn't need. She also billed for substance abuse counseling, smoking cessation and other treatments that patients never received, authorities said.
She used that money to buy less expensive non-FDA-approved drugs and devices online from Canada and other countries, including mislabeled birth control devices and osteoporosis drugs, according to the indictment.
The doctor then charged the government for administering those drugs, according to the indictment. Officials said Colasante gave the drugs to patients without their knowledge or consent.
"She is going to defend each and every allegation in an attempt to clear her name," her attorney Gilbert Schaffnit said.
Colasante's case is unusual in that authorities usually target high dollar scams. The indictment did not include how much the doctor allegedly billed the government programs for. But her practice billed Medicare for a relatively low dollar amount in 2012, according to federal health officials. She billed just over $55,000 compared to the state's top two billers, a West Palm Beach ophthalmologist who billed nearly $21 million and an Ocala cardiologist who billed $18 million.
In a January blog post, Colasante detailed how she was forced to close her practice after the FBI raided her office in 2011 and that her bank account had been frozen.
A trial is set for June. If convicted, she faces 10 years in prison for each of the health care fraud counts.


  1. The telling fact here is the sum of $54,000. That alone indicates that this whole prosecution (persecution) is little more than government harassment. Think of the billions of dollars stolen from taxpayers by multinational corporations. $54K isn't fraud, it's a clerical error.

  2. Think of the price of drugs in Canada. I am sure there are doctors getting drugs from Canada. I was able to get some myself without a prescription. Much cheaper. I couldn't keep it up though. I was unsure how legal it was. Anyway, this does sound like persecution. I am disappointed in President Obama. He never has brought up the issue of the price of drugs. He didn't manage to get that to be part of the ACA. He was weak on health care and yet the GOP makes it sound like some revolutionary program was passed. Now, Rick Scott, who owned a hospital and plead the 5th amendment 75 times for cheating Medicare, for his own good I'm sure, not for his patients keeps poor and homeless people from receiving medical benefits as Governor of Florida. Isn't this IRONIC?

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  4. These kinds of stories make me want to jump through a window and choke him. You put all your trust in these individuals and they do something like this? I think the reason we are seeing so many of these cases is because the penalty is a slap on the wrists. Put one away for ten years and they all think twice.

    Mathew Triano @ US HealthWorks - Spokane (North Side)