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Forest Hills doc charged in false billing scam: DA

Dr. German Laufer, 61, of West Orange, N.J., practices at clinics located at 101-20 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills, 197-27 Hillside Ave. in Hollis and 139-81 35th Ave. in Flushing, the DA said.According to the criminal complaint filed by the DA's office, between June 2003 and June 2006 Laufer submitted insurance claims for expensive nerve conduction studies and needle electromyographs that were never performed on nine patients, Brown said. The tests measure the flow of electrical currents across the nerves, and record the electrical activity in muscles and nerves, Brown said.Laufer allegedly submitted fraudulent claims for these tests, which were never performed and unnecessary in any event, to three no-fault insurance companies - Auto One, Progressive and Country Wide - and billed them more than $15,000, Brown said.Under New York's no-fault law, a person hurt in a car accident can receive up to $50,000 coverage for medical expenses incurred as a result of a crash, the DA said. Most health care providers are reimbursed directly by the insurance carriers for services provided, the DA said."This case is particularly disturbing as it is alleged that a doctor who took an oath to do no harm to his patients tried to take advantage of their injuries by falsely billing their insurance carriers. No-fault fraud and abuse is a billion-dollar-a-year business in New York fueled by unethical health care professionals," Brown said. "Such rip-offs are costing the typical New York motorist $300 to $400 a year in higher insurance premiums and are the major reason why New York's automobile insurance coverage costs an average of nearly $2,000 per driver, the second highest in the nation."Laufer was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Tuesday on charges of grand larceny, insurance fraud, falsifying business records and attempted grand larceny, and released without bail, the DA said. He was ordered to return to court May 9. If convicted, Laufer faces up to four years in prison and the loss of his medical license, Brown said.Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at achristodoulides@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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