Indicted doctor not part of Crossroads practice

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — A geriatric behavioral health facility in Huntingburg is still expected to open next month, despite a Kentucky doctor who was the original face of the project having been indicted on several counts of health care fraud.

That doctor, Dr. Ijaz Mahmood, was never going to practice at the Crossroads Behavioral Health, a geriatric facility set to open in part of the former St. Joseph’s Hospital building.

Mayor Denny Spinner said that medical services will be provided by Healthcare Services Management.

“By law, Dr. Mahmood cannot be involved in the medical practice.," Spinner said. "A doctor cannot be part of the ownership of a hospital that he practices in."

Dr. Mahmood, an oncologist and hematologist whose practice is in Kentucky, was indicted this month on five counts of health care fraud. He is part of a multi-state bust involving 60 defendants across 11 federal districts, including 31 doctors, seven pharmacists, eight nurse practitioners, and seven other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in the illegal prescribing and distributing of opioids and other dangerous narcotics and for health care fraud schemes.

Mahmood is charged with conspiring to “defraud a health care benefit program affecting commerce,” the court document reads, “that is Medicare, TRICARE, Medicaid, Anthem and other commercial health care benefit programs.” Another count accuses him of conspiring to dispense controlled substances by pre-signing prescription sheets for his office staff to use while he was away from his office.

The claims against him were filed earlier this month in the U.S. District Court Western District of Kentucky at Louisville. He has paid a $25,000 bond and is awaiting trial.

Calls to Assurance Health, which is part of Healthcare Services Management, and to Dr. Mahmood’s office were not returned this morning.

Huntingburg Partners is owner of the former St. Joseph’s building, with Dr. Mahmood being a member of the board. The owner of Huntingburg Partners is actually Shazia Mahmood, Dr. Mahmood’s wife.

“From day one, he was never going to provide medical services at this facility. That was never part of the plan, because by law, he cannot be,” Spinner said.

Dr. Mahmood was originally the face of the development of the former hospital site, which closed in 2007; back then, he was working with a group of people on developing the property. Eventually, the development group morphed into Huntingburg Partners. All interactions concerning the development are between Huntingburg Partners, Healthcare Services Management and the city.

The tax abatement and economic development grant Huntingburg has approved is with Huntingburg Partners.

“Huntingburg Partners has met the requirements of the grant. They have made the investment they said they would make,” Spinner said. “The remaining grant is based on the facility being in operation. If that happens, then the rest of the grant will take place.”

As far as the tax abatement, “there are terms and conditions for the tax abatement, the most obvious being the creation of jobs,” Spinner said. “Should something happen that would prevent the facility’s operation, they would not meet not the job criteria and they would not get the abatement.”

Crossroads Behavioral Health is destined to have 40 beds total, the first part being 16 beds for behavioral health geared to the elderly. The plan for the additional beds is not completely set in stone, though ideas have been discussed for other services. The facility is still slated to open sometime next month.

“Right now, everything is proceeding as planned,” Spinner said.




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