NEW YORK, July 26 Dr. Lawrence Jaeger of Community Medical and Dermatology Center and Advanced Dermatology of the Bronx and Manhattan (www.ADV-DERM.COM) voluntarily settled with the government a civil lawsuit that had dragged on for well over three years. Even though a number of factors, including ongoing governmental audits, led Dr. Jaeger to believe he was in compliance with the conditions the government set for expanding his practice, Dr. Jaeger voluntarily settled the case to put the entire matter behind him and to avoid costly litigation. This allowed him to spend 100% of his professional time caring for patients who have serious dermatologic conditions, ranging from skin disease to cancer. Dr. Jaeger, a resident of Larchmont in Westchester County, remains a full participating member of both the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
The government's lawsuit focused on a simple certification issue: whether Dr. Jaeger ended up converting his dermatology-only clinic to a facility that would provide essentially 50-50 dermatology and primary care. Although Dr. Jaeger tried to provide 50% primary care -- by hiring primary care doctors and promoting their services -- his area of the Bronx was likely too saturated with primary care practices to make his a success.
The civil lawsuit Dr. Jaeger voluntarily settled contained allegations that were never proven and Dr. Jaeger did not admit to a single one. In fact, he consistently objected to the allegations in discussions with the government over a multi-year period, and offered a great deal of proof rebutting them. In the end, it is not even clear that there was a valid legal basis for the government's allegations.
From the start, Dr. Jaeger made a sincere, good faith effort to try to expand his dermatology practice into primary care. He steadfastly maintained and offered proof that he never acted unlawfully and would have corrected the situation immediately if anyone from the State -- after its audits and after knowing that he had been providing 100 percent dermatology when he sought certification -- had alerted him to a problem.
"This was not a typical false claims act case," said Jaeger's attorney, Peter Chavkin of Mintz Levin, who is experienced in that area. "This is not and never was a dispute about the necessity of the services Dr. Jaeger rendered or whether he rendered them. Every single service for which he billed was deemed necessary and appropriate and the government never challenged that. In addition, Dr. Jaeger operated his practice openly and never hid anything he was doing; the government knew that he had been providing only dermatology care, they audited him, they approved the expert he hired to help him comply with all aspects of his primary care commitment, and they never imposed specific dates by which he had to meet that commitment. Put simply, there was no fraud, no falsity and no illegality."
Chavkin went on to note that Dr. Jaeger remains in both the Medicare and Medicaid Programs after both programs concluded their reviews.
SOURCE Dr. Lawrence Jaeger