Feds indict doc whose abuses were detailed in 2010 WSJ series

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

In The Wall Street Journal, John Carreyrou reports that a physician the paper spotlighted in a data-driven series on Medicare abuses has now been “indicted by a federal grand jury … for allegedly submitting more than $13 million of false claims.”

The article marks the first time the Journal has been able to print the physician’s name (Emma Poroger), even though they’ve been aware of it for more than a year.

The Journal identified Dr. Poroger, a doctor of osteopathy, as having suspicious billing patterns by mining the Medicare claims database, a computerized record of every bill submitted to the program. But her name was withheld in the October 2010 front-page article because Medicare keeps information pertaining to individual doctors confidential under a three-decade-old court injunction.

That injunction stems from a 1979 lawsuit filed by the American Medical Association, the doctors’ trade group, to keep secret how much money physicians receive from Medicare. At the time, the court said doctors’ privacy trumped the public’s interest in knowing how tax dollars are spent.

The Journal’s publisher, Dow Jones & Co., filed court papers this year seeking to overturn the injunction. In September, a federal judge in Florida ruled that Dow Jones’s case could proceed.

Carreyrou also called out a few other physicians featured anonymously in the series whose names had also been made public in various official proceedings.

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