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CPAs will help Fata victims fill out claims forms

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Former patients and family members of those treated by convicted cancer doctor Farid Fata, whose malpractice and medical mistreatment that led to some being treated for cancer they did not have, are getting help filling out restitution claim forms.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade announced Monday at her downtown Detroit office that volunteer certified public accountants will help claimants fill out the forms beginning Sept. 6 at the Common Ground Resource and Crisis Center in Pontiac.

Appointments can be made starting Sept. 1 by calling the Fata Claims Call Center’s toll free number (877) 202-3282 beginning 3 p.m. Thursday.

The deadline for submitting claims is Oct. 5. Those who are submitting claims for remedial treatment as a result of problems associated with Fata’s practices must have the medical treatment completed by Sept. 6.

The claim forms can be found at fataclaims.com. An $11 million restitution fund has been created by the federal government through Fata’s forfeited cash and other assets. The money pays for out-of-pocket expenses, funeral costs and remedial medical treatments.

Assistant U.S. prosecutor Sarah Cohen, who helped prosecute Fata, said funeral expenses won’t necessarily be 100 percent reimbursed.

“It will depend on the number of claims,” she said Monday.

Fata was charged with a $35 million Medicare fraud. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced in July 2015 to at least 45 years in prison for health care fraud and other charges related to his cancer treatments involving at least 553 patients. But McQuade and prosecutors admit there could be more victims.

About 17,000 patients were seen at Fata’s seven clinics in the Detroit area which were part of his Michigan Hematology and Oncology Inc. practice. Not all the patients were seen by Fata, however. Patients saw other doctors at the practice.

Fata, 51, pleaded guilty in 2014 to health care fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to give or receive kickbacks. He is serving time in a federal prison in Salters, South Carolina.

Those filing claims for out-of-pocket expenses must provide documentation that they were treated by Fata. Cohen said an insurance company’s explanation of benefits will suffice. Claimants also will be able to check a box on the claim forms which will allow them to “swear” the claimant owed and paid the bill.

Sandy Palazzolo, the victim witness coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit, said victims are dealing with a large number of paperwork and they are also “reliving” the ordeal they went through in their treatments by Fata.

“It’s bringing up a lot of emotions,” Palazzolo said. “It’s very overwhelming.”

McQuade said what Fata “did to people is unimaginable” and his crimes demonstrate the need for people to get a second opinion with a medical diagnosis.

McQuade called Fata’s case the most “egregious” she had ever seen and said “We hope we don’t see this sort of evil again.”

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2027