The cardiologist falsely diagnosed a majority of his Medicare and Medicaid patients with coronary artery disease and debilitating and inoperable angina so he could treat them, unnecessarily, with enhanced external counterpulsation, or EECP, prosecutors said. The treatment employs the use of pneumatic cuffs to compress blood vessels in the lower limbs to increase blood flow to the heart.
Katz even prescribed the treatment in cases in which doing so subjected the patients to risk of injury or death, prosecutors said.
From 2005 through 2012, Medicare and Medicaid paid the doctor more than $15.6 million just for his EECP treatments, most of which were fraudulent, the government said.
"After years of prominence in his field, Jose Katz will now be remembered for his record-setting fraud," U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said.
From 2006 to early 2009, Katz spent more than $6 million for advertising on Spanish-language television and radio stations, attracting hundreds of patients from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Overall, the government said, he billed Medicare and Medicaid more than $70 million from 2005 through 2012.
Prosecutors said he ordered and performed essentially the same diagnostic tests for nearly all his patients. They said he also instructed his non-physician employees to order and perform tests for patients of other doctors working at his offices, even though he had not examined those patients and the other doctors had not ordered them.
Katz also was accused of ordering an unlicensed co-conspirator to treat patients. The co-conspirator, who had a medical degree from Puerto Rico but didn't have a license to practice medicine in any of the 50 states, awaits sentencing.
Katz, who is free on bail, is scheduled to be sentenced July 23. The healthcare fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Prosecutors said he also faces fines and will be ordered to pay restitution.