The Miami Herald directly tied the FBI’s inquiry of Dr. Salomon Melgen to New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez:
Federal agents began investigating Dr. Salomon Melgen last year, sources say, after investigators suspected he overbilled the taxpayer-funded health program by using a high-priced drug called Lucentis, which is injected into patients’ eyes.
The agents raided Melgen’s West Palm Beach offices last week. He’s also under FBI examination for his ties to Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, who tried to help Melgen with another Medicare dispute.
According to the Washington Post, Menendez contacted administrators at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as Melgen faced an audit for overbilling the government $8.9 million. He originally contacted officials in 2009:
Menendez (D-N.J.) initially contacted federal officials in 2009 about the government’s audit of Salomon Melgen, complaining to the director overseeing Medicare payments that it was unfair to penalize the doctor because the billing rules were ambiguous, the aides said.
The FBI’s investigation of Melgen partially deals with this instance, but investigators and healthcare auditors said their concerns about Melgen were not new. For more than a decade, “they have examined the volume of eye injections, surgeries, and laser treatments performed at his West Palm Beach clinic.”
The investigation began around Melgen’s use of Lucentis, a drug used to treat macular degeneration and other eye diseases, according to the Miami Herald.
Investigators believe the doctor billed Medicare “millions of dollars to treat elderly patients for services they may not have needed” using the drug, which costs $2,000 per vial.
The article is the first report that Menendez is officially apart of the investigation. Previous reports had suggested the senator may have misused his political influence in order to assist Melgen.