But last year he abruptly retired and closed his practice – months before admitting in federal court in Alexandria that he had participated in a fraudulent scheme by prescribing expensive scar creams in exchange for bribes – de-wine.
He earned around $100,000 in bribes. Rosen also billed some patients as an out-of-network provider while part of their insurance network, earning approximately $52,839. He lost his ability to practice medicine and agreed to pay $1.3 million in restitution for money overpaid by insurance companies.
In court on Friday, Rosen, 72, called the crime a “significant lack of judgment” and apologized to family, friends and patients. He was sentenced to two years probation, including six months house arrest.
“This is a sad case because Dr. Rosen is obviously a fantastic doctor, and he was unfortunately drawn into a scheme that was not of his own initiative,” defense attorney Stuart Sears said. . “Given the potential results, I was pleased with the court’s decision today and the fact that the government finally agreed that incarceration was not appropriate.”
Sears said in court that Rosen “probably saved insurance companies millions of dollars because of the advances he made in robotics.” He said Rosen avoided prescribing opioids and switched to pain creams because of his concerns about addiction and abuse.
“Several times I watched him provide free health care to women who had no health insurance or financial means to pay for the visit or treatment they needed,” wrote a former nurse at the practice.
Rosen was a small player in a massive $8 million conspiracy based on doctors prescribing expensive drugs through pharmacists who paid bribes to fill orders.
According to court records, the scheme was started by two other doctors, only one of whom was charged with a crime.
It was a colleague of Rosen’s who approached pharmacist Mohamed Abdalla to accept bribes and reaped the bulk of the profits from the scheme, according to the court filing. This doctor has not been charged. Rosen said he was first told Abdalla was paying him to attend a “speakers bureau.” He said he quickly learned the truth but continued to take the money. In exchange, he began prescribing scar cream to all of his surgical patients. Before, he had only prescribed the cream to certain people.
Abdalla, who ran several pharmacies across Northern Virginia, says he began taking bribes at the suggestion of another doctor in 2013. That doctor, Arlington orthopedic surgeon Thomas Raley , pleaded guilty to fraud last year and is due to be sentenced in June. Raley’s business partner also pleaded guilty, along with a pharmaceutical salesman, another pharmacist and two pharmacy technicians.
“I succumbed to the enormous pressure and expense of owning and running a small business, which has failed me as a professional and a respected member of society for the past few years. working as a pharmacist,” Abdalla said during his sentencing. “It was my greed, one of the deadliest sins, that led me down this terrible path.”
Raley took bribes from Abdalla and others in exchange for writing prescriptions and using certain medical equipment, according to the court filing. He admitted to having set up a similar agreement with pharmacies in Maryland and Las Vegas. He specifically targeted prescriptions for the Department of Defense’s Tricare health insurance program, knowing it tended to be the most generous. He wrote prescriptions for compound drugs, which are tailored to each patient and therefore more expensive than standard drugs.
Others involved also engaged in their own tangential schemes, according to court records. Other employees in Rosen’s office prescribed Alaskan red algae powder, an expensive ingredient with uncertain benefits, in return for bribes.
A colleague of Abdalla’s who pleaded guilty said in a filing that his mentor told him such “business dealings” were a “normal” part of the job. Abdalla’s lawyer called the crime “consistent with the all-too-common practice of recruiting pharmacists to pay bribes on prescriptions.”
Fraud accounts for somewhere between 3 and 10 percent of annual health care spending in the United States, according to the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association, a partnership between law enforcement and insurance companies. A 2019 ProPublica investigation found that healthcare fraud is rarely prosecuted when government programs are not involved.