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Published: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 @ 4:57 PM
Updated: Wednesday, July 17, 2019 @ 6:10 AM
COLUMBUS — The owner of a medical and dental billing company was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison in U.S. District Court for her role in committing more than $2 million in health care fraud.
Cindy Dahdah, 61, of Beavercreek, and her late husband, Dr. Salim Dahdah, conspired to commit health care fraud from 2007 until 2015, according to a release from Benjamin C. Glassman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.
The Dahdahs provided medically unnecessary medical tests and procedures, including invasive cardiac procedures, exposing patients to the risk of serious physical harm, according to court documents and testimony.
Cindy Dahdah pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to commit and committing health care fraud and making false statements related to health care matters. Her husband also pleaded guilty in October 2018 to the same crimes. He died May 24, prior to being sentenced. They were among more than 400 indicted in what the U.S. Justice Department called a health care fraud takedown.
Salim Dahdah was a licensed cardiologist and owner of the Ohio Institute of Cardiac Care in Springfield. The practice eventually used the name Advanced Cardiology Associates Inc. Cindy Dahdah incorporated ACCU-BIL Management Inc., a privately held medical and billing company established in 2001 in Beavercreek. The couple also owned a primary care practice in the same building as the cardiology practice.
As part of their conspiracy, the couple created aggressive medical protocols for cardiac-related tests and procedures they required staff to follow, regardless of the medical necessity.
The Dahdahs would name a patient’s last seen doctor as a referring physician for invasive and unnecessary procedures, even through they were not ordered by that doctor. Cindy Dahdah would often reprimand, humiliate or threaten to terminate employees who refused to schedule the medical tests, the release stated.
To increase revenue, Salim Dahdah intentionally misinterpreted cardiac tests to justify risky procedures like the insertion of heart defibrilators when they were not necessary. For example, he told a patient in his or her 30s that he or she would die without a heart surgery. The patient underwent the surgery in 2013, and later had to undergo a second risky heart surgery, by another cardiologist, to have it removed.
As a result of the health care fraud scheme, the Dahdahs caused more than 2,000 fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicare, Ohio Medicaid and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield totaling approximately $2 million.