Jury convicts radiology business owner in imaging-contrast kickback scheme

A jury recently convicted a physician owner of a New York imaging center for defrauding Medicaid via a contrast kickback scheme.

From 2006-2017, Long Island neurosurgeon Payam Toobian, MD, oversaw a scam in which two physicians would receive gift cards and cash in exchange for referrals to his radiology business. For three of those years, America’s Imaging Center employees also would add additional radiological procedures to orders submitted by referrers to boost reimbursement totals.

On Nov. 22, a jury found Toobian guilty of grand larceny, healthcare fraud and four counts of falsifying business records, among other felony charges. Attorney General Letitia James announced the news the same day as the conviction.

“All New Yorkers should be able to trust that their doctors are prioritizing their health, not simply using them to upcharge insurance companies,” the state AG said in a statement. “For years, Payam Toobian subjected patients to unnecessary and often invasive tests in order to enrich himself. Today’s verdict will ensure he is held accountable for defrauding Medicaid and putting New Yorkers at risk.”

James previously indicted the physician in August of 2022. Additional unnecessary tests included MRIs of the brain, cervical and lumbar spine, all with added contrast injections. Last year, authorities estimated that Toobian raked in more than $1 million from claims filed through the scheme.

A whistleblower first surfaced the accusations in 2015, filing a qui tam case under the False Claims Act, attorneys noted in a separate announcement issued Wednesday. AG James later intervened in the case in November 2021.

Marty Stempniak

Marty Stempniak has covered healthcare since 2012, with his byline appearing in the American Hospital Association's member magazine, Modern Healthcare and McKnight's. Prior to that, he wrote about village government and local business for his hometown newspaper in Oak Park, Illinois. He won a Peter Lisagor and Gold EXCEL awards in 2017 for his coverage of the opioid epidemic. 

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